Two Fraud Charges Against Boeing 737 MAX Chief Technical Pilot Dismissed

Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – A federal judge has dismissed two charges brought against Mark Forkner, the former chief technical pilot for Boeing accused of withholding information when developing the 737 MAX, according to a court order.

Forkner, 49, was accused of withholding information from the FAA’s Aircraft Evaluation Group regarding the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System on Boeing 737 MAX airplanes during the certification process for the planes.

In a report published in July 2017, the FAA did not include information about the new augmentation system, and pilots flying the Boeing 737 MAX airplanes were not notified of the system in their manuals, federal authorities said.

After the report’s publication, 2 Boeing 737 MAX planes have crashed; the Lion Air Flight 610 near Jakarta in October 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 near Ejere, Ethiopia in March 2019. These crashes claimed the lives of 346 people.

On Tuesday, Judge Reed O’Conner, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Fort Worth, dismissed two counts of fraud that alleged Forkner “made and used a materially false writing … concerning an aircraft part,” in violation of federal law.

O’Conner said in the court order to dismiss the charges because Forkner did not “‘make’ or ‘use’ a false report” about any “part” as it is defined in the law being used to charge the former Boeing chief technical pilot.

Forkner’s attorneys tried to get the rest of the indictment against him dismissed, four charges for wire fraud, but a judge denied the motion. Forkner is scheduled to go to trial on the wire fraud charges in March.

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