Boeing 737 MAX: The accused chief test pilot sees himself as a scapegoat

Fraud charges
He tested the scandalous Boeing 737 MAX, now he faces 100 years imprisonment: test pilot sees himself as a scapegoat

Boeing 737 MAX: In October 2018 and March 2019, two aircraft of the type crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing a total of 346 people

© Jason Redmond / AFP

100 years in prison is the maximum sentence that Mark Forkner can face. The former chief test pilot of the Boeing 737 MAX planes has been charged with fraud. He denies the allegations.

The former test pilot, accused of his role in the devastating crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX planes, sees himself as a scapegoat. “This tragedy deserves a search for the truth – and not the search for a scapegoat,” said Mark Forkner on Friday (local time) through his lawyers. The former chief technical pilot is said to have provided the FAA with “incorrect, inaccurate and incomplete information about a new part of the flight control of the Boeing 737 MAX,” as the US Department of Justice announced.

“If the government takes this case to court, the truth will show that Mark did not cause this tragedy, he did not lie and he should not be charged,” said his lawyer, David Gerger.

The 49-year-old has to answer before a jury in the US state of Texas for fraud. “The Justice Department will not condone fraud – especially in industries where so much is at stake,” said Texas Attorney Chad Meacham. If convicted, Forkner faces up to 100 years imprisonment.

Forkner is said to have known about problems with the 737 MAX

The 737 MAX was registered in March 2017. Forkner was the direct contact between the aircraft manufacturer and the FAA. According to documents released in early 2020, he had bragged about being able to deceive his FAA colleagues in order to obtain certification for the MCAS stabilization system specially developed for the Boeing 737 MAX.

Forkner had become aware of an issue with the MCAS, according to court documents. In a message to a colleague published in 2019, he said, for example, that the stabilization system made it difficult to fly the aircraft in a simulator. However, he made a conscious decision not to share this information with the FAA, which did not require special training for pilots to use the system.

In October 2018 and March 2019, two machines of the type crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing a total of 346 people. In both cases, the MCAS had submitted incorrect data. In March 2019, a global flight ban was imposed on the previous bestseller from Boeing, which was only lifted at the end of 2020 after a revision of the system.


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