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Former Boeing 737 Test Pilot Indicted on Fraud Associated with Crashes

City, Featured

Boeing 737 | Image by spooh

Former Boeing test pilot Mark Forkner is expected to face his first court hearing Friday in Fort Worth. Forkner was charged with “two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and four counts of wire fraud,” Associated Press writes.

Forkner allegedly violated his duty to give complete and honest feedback on the Boeing 737 Max and its pilot-assist systems. He was the chief technical test pilot and oversaw the testing of the jet during the Boeing Max initiative.

The 737 Max was involved in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019, respectively. ABC reports that the autopilot system and Forkner’s alleged lack of oversight were supposedly responsible for the 346 deaths associated with the crashes.

The issue with the jets was traced back to the 2016 Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. Forkner is accused of withholding an “important change” regarding the system from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA removed the information about the MCAS from their pilot manuals, causing pilots to be untrained in regards to the technology.

The Associated Press claims, “Most pilots didn’t know about MCAS until after the first crash.” The MCAS would cause the nose of the jets to tilt downwards during takeoff, causing pilots to lose control of the plane.

Chad Meacham, a Texas district attorney, told reporters that, “In an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators.”

He accused Forkner of directly “hampering” FAA’s safety regulations and caused pilots to be unaware of the autopilot systems. Forkner said he kept the information secret to stop Boeing from spending millions on further flight simulations and training via an AP interview.

Families of victims are suing Boeing in Chicago federal court. Almost $500 million in compensation has been allotted to the families as part of a $2.5 billion total settlement.

Forkner, who is 49, faces up to 100 years in prison if found guilty of the fraud charges.

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