A former chief technical pilot for Boeing has been charged with fraud for withholding critical information about the company's 737 MAX jet, which was later tied to two fatal crashes.
49-year-old Mark Forkner was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on six counts of scheming to save tens of millions of dollars for Boeing during their evaluation to approve the 737 MAX back in 2017.
If convicted, he potentially faces decades in prison.
According to the indictment, Forkner provided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with quote "materially false, inaccurate and incomplete information" about a new part of the 737 MAX's flight controls, so Boeing would not have to compensate U.S.-based airlines for pilot simulator training.
That system, otherwise known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), was designed to automatically push the airplane’s nose down in certain conditions.
Boeing and the FAA both declined to comment, while a lawyer for Forkner did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In January, Boeing agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion in fines and compensation after reaching an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department over the MAX crashes, which led to the jet being grounded for nearly two years.
Prosecutors noted that a key FAA document lacked any reference to the MCAS, as did airplane manuals and pilot-training materials for U.S.-based airlines as a result.
In 2019, the FAA began requiring simulator training before pilots could resume flying the MAX.
Forkner is expected to make his initial court appearance on Friday.