If convicted on all counts, Mark Forkner could face up to 100 years in prison
Mark Forkner, a former test pilot for Boeing, pleaded not guilty to allegations that he withheld information from regulators related to safety issues with the 737 MAX jetliner, which was involved in two fatal crashes that killed hundreds Were.
Forkner, 49, appeared before a US magistrate judge in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday.
Following his plea, Forkner was immediately released and left the courthouse with his wife and lawyers.
“Everyone who has been affected by this tragedy deserves a search for the truth, not the scapegoat,” defense attorney David Gerger said. NBC 5 News. “And if the government takes this matter to trial, the truth will show that Mark didn’t cause this tragedy, Mark didn’t lie, and Mark shouldn’t be charged.”
Former Boeing pilot accused of deceiving safety regulators about 737 MAX jetliner
Forkner’s Thursday indictment alleges that he hid information about a flight-control system that accidentally activated and pushed the nose down of Max jets that crashed in Indonesia in 2018 and in Ethiopia in 2019. The pilots unsuccessfully attempted to regain control, but both planes failed minutes after takeoff.
Forkner was Boeing’s chief technical pilot in the MAX program. Prosecutors said Forkner learned of a significant change to the maneuver attribute enhancement system flight-control system in 2016, but withheld information from the FAA. This prompted the agency to remove the reference to MCAS from the technical report and, in turn, it did not appear in the pilot manual. Most pilots were not aware of MCAS until after the first crash.
Prosecutors suggested that Forkner downplayed the issue to avoid a requirement that pilots undergo extensive and costly retraining, which would increase costs for airlines. Congressional investigators suggested that the additional training would increase the cost of each aircraft by $1 million.
Chicago-based Boeing agreed to a $2.5 billion settlement To end the Justice Department’s investigation into the company’s actions. The government agreed to drop the criminal conspiracy charge against Boeing after three years if the company met the terms of the January 2020 agreement.
A trial date has been set for November 15. If convicted on all counts, Forkner could face up to 100 years in prison.