New York | A former Boeing test pilot accused of misleading an aviation regulator in the United States during the certification process of 737 MAX, two of which crashed, killing 346 people.
Mark Forkner, 49, “provided the agency with false, inaccurate and incomplete information about a new component of Boeing 737 MAX’s flight control system,” MCAS said in a statement defending the Justice Department.
The regulator, FAA, does not demand instruction in the training of pilots in MCAS, the software prevents the aircraft from going down the nose and getting caught in two accidents.
Boeing has already acknowledged its responsibility in the manipulation of officials and agreed in January to pay more than $ 2.5 billion to settle some lawsuits. The aeronautical giant has admitted that two of its employees misled the FAA.
Mr. Forkner was the first person to be personally prosecuted in this case.
Problems in the simulator
According to prosecution documents, the officer discovered a significant change in MCAS in 2016.
In a message sent to a colleague revealed in 2019, he stated that the software made it difficult to fly in a plane simulator.
But he deliberately chose not to share this information with the FAA, which led the regulator to say that the pilots did not require specific training and did not include the MCAS instruction in the training documents.
“Basically, I mean I lied to the regulators,” Forkner wrote to his colleague at the time.
The officer also boasted that MCAS could deceive his FAA interlocutors into obtaining the certification of the anti-install system.
The 737 Max was officially approved in March 2017 and made its first commercial flight a few weeks later.
In October 2018, a Lion Air plane crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff, killing 189 people.
In March 2019, an Ethiopian airline 737 MAX crash killed 157 people.
During the two incidents, the flight control software, MCAS, was carried over based on false information sent through one of the aircraft’s two probes.
Only in October 2018, after the first crash, did the FAA learn “key details” about MCAS.
All 737 Maxs were discontinued in March 2019 before being allowed to fly again in the United States at the end of 2020 after the software was changed.
Mr Forkner, 49, was convicted of two counts of fraud with four counts of aircraft parts and electronic communication fraud by a grand jury in Texas.
If convicted, he could theoretically face up to 100 years in prison.
“Mr. Forkner withheld critical information from the regulator in an attempt to save money for Boeing,” Texas federal prosecutor Chad Micham said in a statement.
“The Justice Department does not tolerate such fraud, especially in sectors where stocks are high,” he added.
When asked by AFP, Boeing declined to comment.