The U.S. federal grand jury on Thursday accused former chief test pilot Boeing of misleading aviation regulators during the certification process for the 737 MAX, which was involved in two deadly crashes.
Mark Forkner, 49, was the lead liaison between the aviation giant and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over how pilots should be trained to operate aircraft.
Forkner “provided the agency with materially false, inaccurate and incomplete information about the new part of the flight controls for the Boeing 737 MAX flight control system”, called the Performance Enhancement System (MCAS), which is to blame for the 2018 and 2019 accidents. , the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.
According to court documents, In 2016, Forkner revealed information about a major change in MCAS that was supposed to prevent a stalemate, but he deliberately chose not to share details with the FAA.
As a result, the FAA did not include a reference to MCAS in a critical document or in pilot training manuals.
Forkner has also been charged with conspiracy against Boeing customers who bought 737 MAX aircraft by concealing critical data.
According to documents released in early 2020, he boasted that he could cheat his FAA contacts to get MCAS certification.
The 737 MAX was officially certified in March 2017, but was grounded worldwide 20 months after two collisions in October 2018 and March 2019 that killed a total of 346 people.
In both cases, MCAS went crazy based on incorrect information transmitted by one of the two sensors of the plane.
MAX was again allowed to fly in late 2020, following a change to the MCAS software.
Boeing has admitted its responsibility in deceiving regulators and has agreed to pay more than $ 2.5 billion to settle lawsuits.
Forkner was formally charged Thursday by a Texas grand jury with two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts and four counts of fraud.
If convicted, he faces up to 100 years in prison.
“Forkner allegedly hid critical information from regulators,” said Texas federal prosecutor Chad Meacham.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate fraud – especially in industries where the stakes are so high.”
Boeing did not respond to an AFP request for comment.