Boeing’s chief pilot during the development of the 737 MAX has been indicted by a jury in the US state of Texas. The pilot is suspected of misinforming the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about safety issues related to the two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX.
“In an effort to save Boeing money, former chief pilot Mark Forkner has reportedly withheld critical information,” the Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday. The pilot would have been an important contact with the FAA at Boeing during the development of the aircraft. He had to teach pilots how to fly the 737 MAX.
Forkner is the first person to face criminal charges for the problems with the 737 MAX. He is expected to appear in court on Friday in Fort Worth on six charges. The former chief pilot faces decades in prison if found guilty.
The man would have misled the FAA, among other things, by indicating that the differences in certain systems between the 737 MAX and predecessors were smaller than was actually the case. This would save valuable training time and make the device more attractive to customers. The pilot has been out of work at Boeing for years.
The 737 MAX was grounded worldwide for a long time from March 2019 after two fatal accidents involving the type in a short time. Hundreds of people were killed in the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The cause turned out to be a flight assistance system that pushed the aircraft’s nose down at the wrong times. Boeing has made adjustments to correct the problems.
Meanwhile, the United States, Canada, and the European Union, among others, decided to let the 737 MAX fly again.