Former Boeing pilot is indicted in probe of 737 MAX crashes

October 18, 2021

A federal grand jury in Texas has indicted a former Boeing  pilot—alleging that he deceived air-safety regulators about a flight-control system that later was blamed for sending two 737 MAX jets into fatal nosedives, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Mark A. Forkner, 49 years old, was charged with six counts of fraud related to his alleged role in persuading the Federal Aviation Administration to approve pilot-trai

The crashes occurred in late 2018 and early 2019 and took 346 lives.

David Gerger, an attorney for Forkner, did not respond to requests for comment late Thursday, the Journal notes. Gerger has previously said that Forkner, a pilot and Air Force veteran, wouldn’t endanger pilots or passengers and that his communications with regulators were honest.

However, prosecutors allege that Forkner, in his role as Boeing’s 737 MAX chief technical pilot, withheld crucial information from the FAA about the flight-control system known as MCAS. As a result of his alleged deception, a key FAA report, pilot manuals and training materials lacked references to the system, defrauding Boeing’s airline customers, prosecutors said.

Forkner “abused his position of trust by intentionally withholding critical information about MCAS,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. said in a statement.

Forkner was expected to make an initial court appearance on Friday in Fort Worth, prosecutors said. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, and 10 years in prison for each count of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce.

Boeing and the FAA declined to comment. The case against Forkner is the first time an individual has faced charges related to the dual MAX crashes, the first of which occurred three years ago this month. Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department earlier this year.

Research contact: @WSJ

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