WASHINGTON, Oct 14 Reuters - A former chief technical pilot for Boeing Co. was charged on Thursday with deceiving federal regulators concerning the evaluation of the company's 737 MAX plane in order to save the U.S. planemaker money, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Mark Forkner, 49, was indicted for scheming to defraud the U.S. - based airline customers of Boeing to order tens of millions of dollars for Boeing.
Boeing and a lawyer for Forkner did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The indictment said Forkner provided the Federal Aviation Administration FAA with materially incomplete information about a new part of the flight controls for the Boeing 737 MAX called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System MCAS The MCAS was tied to two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX over a five month period that killed 346 people and led to the plane's 19-month grounding by the FAA in November 2020.
In January, Boeing agreed to pay for https: www.reuters.org. COM article boeing -737 max-justice - int boeing-to pay - 2 - 5 billion-to- settle-u - s-criminal - probe-into - 737-max-crashes - idUSKBN 29 D 07 Q more than $2.5 billion in fines and compensation after reaching a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over the MAX crashes.
Prosecutors noted a key FAA document lacked any reference to MCAS and as a result airplane manuals and pilot training materials for U.S. based airlines also lacked any reference.
In an attempt to save Boeing money, Chad E. Meacham allegedly withheld critical information from regulators, said Acting U.S. Attorney Forkner in Northern Texas. His callous decision to mislead the FAA left the agency's ability to protect the flying public and hampered pilots in the lurch, missing information about certain 737 MAX flight controls. One November 2016 message from Forkner that was released in 2019 told him he was working at Jedi Mind tricking regulators into accepting the training approved by FAA. Forkner is charged with two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and four charges of wire fraud. He is expected to make his first court appearance on Friday in Fort Worth, Texas.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and 10 years in prison for each count of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce.