Former Boeing official indicted for deceiving FAA about plane parts that may have led to crashes

·2 min read

A high-level employee at Boeing deceived regulators about specific functions of the Boeing 737 MAX, potentially leading to two deadly crashes, according to the Department of Justice.

A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Texas indicted Mark Forkner, the former chief technical pilot at Boeing, for deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration's Aircraft Evaluation Group and scheming to defraud customers, the Justice Department said Thursday. He now faces two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and four counts of wire fraud, the department added.

"In an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators," said acting U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham for the Northern District of Texas. "His callous choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency’s ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in the lurch, lacking information about certain 737 MAX flight controls. The Department of Justice will not tolerate fraud — especially in industries where the stakes are so high."

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Forkner, 49, deceived the FAA by providing the agency with "materially false, inaccurate, and incomplete information" about new parts in the Boeing 737 MAX's flight controls during his time with the company, misstatements that may have contributed to Boeing 737 MAX planes crashing in 2018 and 2019, Thursday's statement added.

After discovering information about an "important change" to the flight controls, known as Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, in 2016, Forkner "allegedly intentionally withheld this information and deceived the FAA AEG about MCAS," and the agency deleted all reference to MCAS in the final version of its report "because of his alleged deceit," the Justice Department said.

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On Oct. 29, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed near Jakarta, Indonesia, an incident that was followed roughly five months later by Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashing near Ejere, Ethiopia, in March 2019. Both planes were Boeing 737 MAX aircraft using MCAS. After the crashes, many airlines sidelined their Boeing 737 MAX planes, canceling around 140 flights per day out of safety concerns. The FAA paved the way for the 737 MAX to return to the skies in December 2020.

Forkner will appear before a magistrate of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on Friday, the Justice Department said. If convicted, the former Boeing employee could face up to 20 years in prison for each charge of wire fraud and up to 10 years for each count of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce.

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Tags: News, Boeing, FAA, Department of Justice

Original Author: Christopher Hutton

Original Location: Former Boeing official indicted for deceiving FAA about plane parts that may have led to crashes

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