His lawyer said Friday that a former Boeing test pilot indicted Thursday for failing to pass on critical information to the US aviation regulator, while certifying the 737 Max, did not want to become a “scapegoat”.
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Mark Forkner, 49, is the first person to be prosecuted in the investigation into the causes of the 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.
“This tragedy deserves that we look for the truth, not a scapegoat,” his lawyer, David Gerger, said in a letter to AFP.
He added: “If the government really takes this case to justice, the truth will emerge that Mark did not cause this tragedy, that he did not lie and that he should not be charged.”
Forkner has been indicted by a grand jury in Texas. He is accused of providing the FAA with “false, inaccurate and incomplete information” about a change made to the MCAS flight control program implicated in the tragedy. And to do this to save Boeing money.
In a letter to a colleague revealed in 2019, he specifically noted that the software made the plane difficult to fly in a simulator.
But he deliberately chose not to share this information with the FAA, which resulted in the regulator not requiring specific training for pilots and not including a reference to MCAS in training documents.
Boeing has already admitted responsibility for manipulating the authorities and agreed in January to pay more than $2.5 billion to settle some lawsuits. But no one has been prosecuted in this case.
Representatives of the victims’ families said Friday that Forkner was often a “scapegoat”.
“Boeing organized a system to reward short-term financial gains, and Mark Forkner was working within that system,” said Nadia Melron, mother of one of the victims of the March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Prosecutors can and should look for other people responsible for these incidents. All families who have lost someone feel the same way: All Boeing executives and board of directors should go to prison, she added in a statement sent by a representative of the law firm advocating for the families of the victims.
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