FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - The former chief technical pilot for Boeing was indicted Thursday in North Texas for deceiving the FAA in connection with the federal agency's evaluation of the 737 Max airplane.
The federal grand jury for the Northern District of Texas returned the indictment against Mark A. Forkner, 49, who lives in Keller.
The indictment alleges Forkner worked to defraud "Boeing's U.S. based airline customers to obtain tens of millions of dollars for Boeing."
Court documents indicate Forkner deceived the FAA during the agency's evaluation and certification of Boeing's 737 MAX airplane.
The indictment alleges Forkner "provided the agency with materially false, inaccurate, and incomplete information about a new part of the flight controls for the Boeing 737 MAX."
"Forkner allegedly abused his position of trust by intentionally withholding critical information ... during the FAA evaluation and certification of the 737 MAX and from Boeing's U.S. based airline customers," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "In doing so, he deprived airlines and pilots from knowing crucial information about an important part of the airplane's flight controls."
CBS News reports Forkner left Boeing to work for Southwest Airlines. The Dallas-based carrier tells CBSDFW late Thursday Forkner took a voluntary separation package in 2020.
Acting U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham for the Northern District accused Forkner of withholding 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 certain 737 Max flight controls," Meacham said.
Boeing began developing and marketing the 7373 Max in June 2011.
Court documents say Forkner discovered an important change to the plane's maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) but never shared that information with the FAA.
As a result, pilots who trained on the 737 Max never had the information they needed, the U.S. Attorney's office said.
A hearing for Forkner is set for Friday in federal court in Fort Worth.
READ REDACTED INDICTMENT HERE
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