The US Department of Justice has charged former Boeing chief test pilot Mark Forkner with fraud for concealing reliable information about 737 MAX aircraft, including deficiencies in the control system that resulted in casualties.
“Authorities allege that Forkner provided regulators with false, inaccurate, and incomplete information about the Boeing 737 MAX control system, namely the Maneuverability Improvement System (MCAS), which is linked to the 2018 and 2019 disasters in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which resulted in 346 people died, “the statement said.
At the time of the test, the 737 MAX Forkner headed the flight technical team and was responsible for providing regulators with accurate information about the differences between this model and other aircraft.
Prosecutors noted that because of Forkner’s concealment of the information, the key document of the Federal Aviation Administration Assessment Group did not contain any references to the shortcomings or features of the MCAS system. Because of this, it was not mentioned in the aircraft control documents nor in the pilot training materials.
On October 29, 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX passenger plane belonging to the Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed after taking off from Jakarta airport. A few months later, on March 10, 2019, 737 MAX of Ethiopian Airlines suffered a similar crash. Both cases are associated, in particular, with a bug in the software of the MCAS system, designed to automatically lower the nose of the aircraft in specific manoeuvring algorithms.