737 Max flight: U.S. Justice Department charges former Boeing pilot

New York | U.S. Justice on Thursday indicted a former Boeing test pilot accused of misleading an air traffic controller in the United States during the certification process of the 737 Max.

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Mark Forkner, 49, “provided false, inaccurate and incomplete information to the agency about the new part of Boeing 737 Max’s air traffic control system,” the MCAS, the Department of Justice, justified in a statement.

The controller, therefore, did not request a reference to training pilots in the FAA, MCAS, which would prevent the aircraft from going down the nose and engaging in two crashes.

Boeing has already acknowledged its responsibility in dealing with the authorities and agreed to pay more than $ 2.5 billion in January to settle some of the cases. The aeronautical company then admitted that two employees had misled the FAA.

Mr. Forkner was the first person to be personally prosecuted in this case.

Problems with the simulator

According to the case documents, the officer discovered a significant change made in MCAS in 2016.

In a message to a colleague revealed in 2019, he noted that the software made it difficult to fly a plane on a simulator.

But he deliberately chose not to share this information with the FAA, which does not require specific training for pilots and should not include a reference to MCAS in training documents.

“Basically, I lied to the controllers,” Forkner wrote to his co-worker at the time.

The official boasted that he could deceive his FAA spokespersons into getting the certification of the MCAS anti-stall organization.

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“The Most Challenging”

The 737 Max was formally approved in March 2017 and made its maiden business trip a few weeks later.

In October 2018, a Lion Air plane crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board.

In March 2019, 157 people were killed in the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crash.

In both cases, the flight control software, MCAS, was taken away based on false information sent by one of the aircraft’s two inspections.

In October 2018, after the first crash, the FCA learned “important details” about MCAS.

All 737 Max landed in March 2019 before being allowed to fly back to the United States at the end of 2020 once the software changed.

Mr. Forkner, 49, was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on two counts of four counts of aircraft parts and electronic communications fraud.

If convicted, he could theoretically face up to 100 years in prison.

“Forkner withheld important information from regulators in an attempt to save money for Mr. Boeing,” Texas federal prosecutor Chad Remain said in a statement.

“The judiciary cannot tolerate such scams, especially in a sector where stocks are high,” he added.

When asked by AFP, Boeing declined to comment.

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