Dallas – A Boeing pilot involved in testing a 737 Max airliner was charged by a federal grand jury for deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the plane and later being involved in two deadly clashes. ..
The indictment alleges that Mark A. Falkner provided the Federal Aviation Administration with false and incomplete information about the automated flight control system that played a role in the crash that killed 346 people.
Prosecutors said the system was not mentioned in major FAA documents, pilot manuals, or pilot training materials provided to airlines because of Forkner’s “suspicion of deception.”
The flight control system automatically pushed down the nose of Maxjet, which crashed in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019. The pilot tried to regain control, but a few minutes after takeoff, both planes plummeted.
Most pilots were unaware of a system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System until after the first crash.
Forkner, 49, was charged with two frauds involving aircraft parts and four transfer frauds in interstate commerce. A federal prosecutor said he will appear in court for the first time in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday. If convicted in all respects, he could face up to 100 years in prison.
Boeing designed Max to be a more fuel-efficient version of the venerable 737, which can compete with the planes developed by European rival Airbus. The flight control system was intended to make Max fly like the previous 737, even though the nose tends to tilt upwards in some situations.
Parliamentary investigators say Forkner and Boeing use the power of the system to avoid the requirement for pilots to undergo extensive and costly retraining that would increase the cost of airlines to operate planes. It suggested that he disregarded it.
Chad Meecham, Deputy Federal Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said Forkner sought to save Boeing’s money by refraining from “important information” from regulators.
“His ruthless choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency’s ability to protect the public in flight and lacked information on certain 737 MAX flight controls,” Mechaam said in a statement.
Chicago-based Boeing has agreed to a $ 2.5 billion settlement to end the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into its actions. Boeing said in a settlement last year that employees misunderstood regulators about Max’s safety. The settlement included a fine for the airline that purchased the plane and compensation for the family of the passenger who died in the crash.
A family of dozens of passengers is suing Boeing in a federal court in Chicago.
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Boeing pilot involved in Maxtest is charged in Texas
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