Mark A. Forkner, the former chief test pilot for Boeing, was indicted Thursday on charges of allegedly lying to federal authorities who were evaluating the 737 Max airplane.
Forkner, 49, is accused of sharing with Federal Aviation Administration regulators false and incomplete information regarding the plane's automated flight-control system. This system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), played a role in two crashes in late 2018 and early 2019, which left 346 people dead. Following the accidents, the 737 Max was grounded so authorities could investigate why the planes went into sudden nosedives shortly after takeoff.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meachem said that "in an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators. His callous choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency's ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in the lurch, lacking information about 737 Max flight controls."
Federal prosecutors say that in 2016, Forkner learned critical information about the MCAS, but did not pass it along to the FAA to include in the pilot instruction manual. He has also been charged with two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and four counts of wire fraud. He is set to appear in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday.