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US to charge ex-Boeing pilot over 737 Max crashes

Mark Forkner was the lead contact between the aviation giant and the Federal Aviation Administration over how pilots should be trained to fly the planes

File photo of a Boeing 737 Max pictured in November 2020
File photo of a Boeing 737 Max pictured in November 2020
Image: Shutterstock/BlueBarronPhoto

FEDERAL PROSECUTORS ARE preparing to indict a former Boeing test pilot suspected of misleading aviation regulators over the safety issues blamed for two fatal 737 Max crashes, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Mark Forkner was the lead contact between the aviation giant and the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration over how pilots should be trained to fly the planes, the WSJ said yesterday.

According to documents published in early 2020, Forkner withheld details about the planes’ faulty flight handling system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS — later blamed for both crashes — from regulators.

The 737 Max was formally certified in March 2017, but was grounded worldwide for 20 months following two crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 that killed 346 people.

The Max was allowed to fly again at the end of 2020, once the MCAS software was modified.

Boeing has acknowledged its responsibility in misleading regulators and agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion (about €2.1 billion) to settle certain lawsuits.

Neither the US Justice Department nor Forkner’s lawyer responded to requests for comment.

The WSJ said it was not clear what charges Forkner would face.

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