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MAXís Return Delayed by FAA Reevaluation of 737 Safety Procedures

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MAXís Return Delayed by FAA Reevaluation of 737 Safety Procedures

Old 7th Sep 2019, 10:13
  #2241 (permalink)  
 
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Story just came to my attention. Link may be paywalled: https://www.seattletimes.com/busines...nt-protection/
A former Boeing official who played a key role in the development of the 737 MAX has refused to provide documents sought by federal prosecutors investigating two fatal crashes of the jetliner, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to a person familiar with the matter

Mark Forkner, Boeing’s chief technical pilot on the MAX project, invoked the privilege in response to a grand jury subpoena issued by U.S. Justice Department prosecutors looking into the design and certification of the plane, the person said.

Invoking the Fifth to avoid testifying, while a legal right, is sometimes interpreted as an admission of guilt. Its use to resist a subpoena for documents is less common and may only imply a dance between prosecutors and defense attorneys, legal experts say.

Forkner, now a first officer for Southwest Airlines, referred questions to his attorney when reached by phone. His attorney, David Gerger, of Houston, did not respond to inquiries.
Forkner, who worked at Boeing from 2011 to 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile, was frequently anxious about the deadlines and pressures faced in the MAX program, going to some of his peers in the piloting world for help, a person who worked on the project previously told The Seattle Times, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The MCAS system, designed to move a powerful control surface at the tail to push the airplane’s nose down in certain rare situations, played a critical role in the crashes when the planes nose-dived out of the sky.

During the certification process, Forkner suggested to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that MCAS not be included in the pilot manual, according to previous Seattle Times reporting.

The FAA, after internal deliberations, agreed to keep MCAS out of the manual, reasoning that MCAS was software that operates in the background as part of the flight-control system, according to an official familiar with the discussions.
While the Fifth Amendment protects people from testifying against themselves, it “usually does not apply to being required to produce documents because producing a document is not the same as being required to testify,” said University of Washington law professor Jeffrey Feldman.

But there are exceptions that allow the privilege to be asserted where “the mere act of producing the document” may be seen as an incriminating act, Feldman said.

Paul Rothstein, a Georgetown University law professor, said documents may show a person “has them, knows about them or admits they exist.”

“This information can often be somewhat incriminating of that person and thus covered by his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” Rothstein said.

Some courts have held that broad document requests require the person to “use his or her mental processes to interpret and respond to the subpoena, and the production itself could be viewed as testimonial,” said Peter Joy, a Washington University law professor.

In Forkman’s case, Feldman said, it could turn on the type of documents. “Are these the employee’s personal documents? His diary or personal emails? Or are they Boeing’s documents?”

Forkner could ask for immunity from use of the information in the documents, or prosecutors could offer it, the experts said.
Edit: Previously published article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/01/b...max-crash.html
On March 30, 2016, Mark Forkner, the Max’s chief technical pilot, sent an email to senior F.A.A. officials with a seemingly innocuous request: Would it be O.K. to remove MCAS from the pilot’s manual?

The officials, who helped determine pilot training needs, had been briefed on the original version of MCAS months earlier. Mr. Forkner and Boeing never mentioned to them that MCAS was in the midst of an overhaul, according to the three F.A.A. officials.

Under the impression that the system was relatively benign and rarely used, the F.A.A. eventually approved Mr. Forkner’s request, the three officials said.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 11:04
  #2242 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by PEI_3721 View Post
# 2225
The fourth item could also be challenging;
It can be assumed that MCAS is now well protected from a single AoA failure, but the coincident effects on other systems - ADC, speed corrections, Stick Shake, EFIS low speed awareness, are unacceptable during takeoff given the likely failure rate of the AoA input (accident history / investigation).

Why did the AoA fail at or before takeoff in the two accidents and not later in the flights?

A failure in a dual AoA system can be detected by comparison, and the disagreement alerted, but a correct value cannot be identified, which other systems could switch to. Hence rumoured requirement for a triple AoA system - or a much higher reliability sensor.

Similarly for flight without MCAS, which could be acceptable for rare occurrences, but if the AoA reliability was low then this too could be unacceptable for certification.
Which raises another question, how accurately can a failure in an AoA system be detected "at or before takeoff"?
I seem to remember reading that features like the AoA-differ warning [which B forgot to install] only become operational
when the plane is "comfortably" in the air and the AoA vanes have settled down.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 11:12
  #2243 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by GordonR_Cape View Post

Story just came to my attention. Link may be paywalled: https://www.seattletimes.com/busines...nt-protection/
Surely any official documents including emails, from Mr Forknerís employment as Chief Technical Pilot belong to Boeing and are not his to withhold.

Also from Chief Technical Pilot at Boeing to a FO at Southwest? Something doesnít smell right here.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 16:17
  #2244 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Speed of Sound View Post
Surely any official documents including emails, from Mr Forkner’s employment as Chief Technical Pilot belong to Boeing and are not his to withhold.
They must have asked for personal docs, or just possibly asked for his copy of Boeing docs (including any that Boeing might have accidentally failed to locate, or accidentally located downstream of the shredder) but with the request phrased in a way that backs him into a corner. Note that (at least contractually) he very probably shouldn't still have any personal copies of Boeing docs, so even that admission might justify pleading the 5th, but relying on the company to provide evidence to back you once you've left is a bit precarious so many people do keep copies of stuff, just in case.

There is also this:
anxious about the deadlines and pressures faced in the MAX program, going to some of his peers in the piloting world for help

They might, since that was in a public press report, have simply asked for details of all such communications, which could well incriminate him in all sorts of ways - not least that he may have discussed commercial or technical stuff outside of the company without permission.

Then of course there is the timing of the request and why the heck he was asking the FAA to hide something because it was "benign and rarely used" in the middle of a change to make it four times as powerful and much more frequently used, a change which they then apparently forgot to report to the FAA. Now, there might be really really good reasons for that, it might not actually be what it looks like, but do you really want to be trying to justify it in front of a jury who have just spent a few hours looking at pictures of smoking craters and floating wreckage? I suspect his lawyers have advised that STFU now and cooperate when they've given you immunity is a much better strategy.

The $$$$$$ question is of course: what has he got ?

Also from Chief Technical Pilot at Boeing to a FO at Southwest? Something doesn’t smell right here.
My first thoughts too, but I did check out at LinkedIn and it seems he was 737-FO then went to FAA and then Boeing in what look like more management roles, now back to 737-FO - not impossible that he just didn't enjoy those other roles as much as flying. Looks like he left Boeing in July 2018, about when MAX was at peak success, so not jumping off a sinking ship, more likely some bean counter saying "why do we still need a 737 Chief Technical Pilot - it's all done, we now just have to keep cranking them out and cutting cost wherever we can".

Last edited by infrequentflyer789; 7th Sep 2019 at 16:21. Reason: formatting burgered
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 16:48
  #2245 (permalink)  
 
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So the Boeing management knew at least since 1st of April that they will not get an easy re-certification in Europe (and probably other countries) with a software fix alone. And yet they are bragging once in a while: we are ready with the fix, we are ready, we are ready .......
The shareholders and analysts seem to believe this b.s. but for those involved such fake news do not build up a lot of confidence.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 22:09
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Can you imagine being a SW Capt, and your FO was the Chief Technical Pilot for the Cert on the MAX?????? Would you let him take the controls???? hahahaha

From LinkedIn

737 First Officer for Southwest Airlines.

Proven leader and program manager with extensive experience executing technically complex, multi-million dollar projects.
Former Boeing Chief Technical Pilot of the 737, responsible for simultaneously leading the international certification of the operational and training programs for the 737MAX, Boeing’s newest aircraft, while managing the world’s largest fleet of commercial airplanes, consisting of over 500 737 customers operating more than 6,000 airplanes.
Subject Matter Expert in government regulatory compliance with respect to both airplane and airport certification and compatibility requirements.
Combat-tested veteran with more than two dozen wartime missions as a USAF C-17 Instructor Pilot, in support of multiple US war campaigns.
  • First Officer

    Southwest Airlines


    Jul 2018 – Present 1 year 3 months

    Dallas/Fort Worth Area

    737 First Officer for Southwest Airlines.737 First Officer for Southwest Airlines.
  • 737 Chief Technical Pilot

    Boeing


    Oct 2011 – Jul 2018 6 years 10 months

    Seattle, WA
  • Lead Planner, NAS Planning & Integration Team, Air Traffic Organization

    Federal Aviation Adminstration


    Sep 2008 – Sep 2011 3 years 1 month

    Seattle, WA
  • MD80/B-737 First Officer

    Alaska Airlines


    Dec 2002 – Sep 2008 5 years 10 months

    Seattle, WA
  • Chief of Ground/Flying Training/ C-17A Instructor Pilot

    United States Air Force


    Dec 1994 – Nov 2002 8 years

    McChord AFB, WA; Charleston AFB, SC
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-forkner-652355103

This is a lot of experience to only be an FO... almost 6 years at Alaska????? and still an FO?

He claims to have managed all of Boeings 737 clients????

On the C-17 experience...how do you have combat experience as an instructor?

No wonder he is pleading the 5th....

oh I am gonna be asking some serious questions to the drivers at Alaska.........

Last edited by Smythe; 7th Sep 2019 at 22:19.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 00:12
  #2247 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Smythe View Post
  • 737 Chief Technical Pilot
Doesn't say chief 'test' pilot - so what is a Chief Technical Pilot? I can well see why they want to ask him questions given what he writes in his profile - which is usually exaggerated IMHO since the profile is often used to get the next job. Regarding your comment on combat ops, instructor pilots do fly into hostile territory. Compare the following from another C-17 instuctor pilot's resume:

"Train and prepare more than 100 personnel in conducting airlift and aerial delivery under hostile threat. Unit subject matter expert on weapon system employment and primary project officer for joint and multilateral exercises. Pilot in command of C-17 aircraft and 5-person crew on worldwide cargo and passengers airlift missions. Conduct ground and flight instruction in Crew Resource Management, International Civil Aviation Organization procedures, aeromedical evacuation, aerial refueling, combat tactics, standard and emergency procedures."
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 00:40
  #2248 (permalink)  
 
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Well, seems like a scapegoat/fall guy has been found.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 01:21
  #2249 (permalink)  
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I can see why SW would want him on board. Lack of seniority would bar a command but time in a classroom, or SIM would perhaps be shared with flying time. Or maybe, it's just a way of establishing a pay scale while making use of his expertise. However, my concern would be this guy's burdens while operating to P121. That's a huge slew of different worries to carry with you on a daily basis.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 09:17
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oh and he worked for the FAA before going straight to Boeing.. that well worn carpet that links Renton and DC...

also Air Force Academy. Odd to see a grad doing bump and goes with the bucket and spade brigade as an FO in the lower 48

G

Last edited by groundbum; 8th Sep 2019 at 10:28.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 12:51
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This guy coulda have stopped the train with a quick word over lunch to his counterpart at the FAA: That he had to make the request to the FAA in the company name doesnít mean they needed to grant it. Or maybe it does in which case the US has really relocated to the third world.

Itíll be interesting to see whether SW keeps him on.

Edmund

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Old 8th Sep 2019, 18:09
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Originally Posted by groundbum View Post
oh and he worked for the FAA before going straight to Boeing.. that well worn carpet that links Renton and DC...

also Air Force Academy. Odd to see a grad doing bump and goes with the bucket and spade brigade as an FO in the lower 48

G
I doubt it is a coincidence that he moved to the main US customer for the MAX, there is probably some tricky legal or political reason that we don't understand. I really don't think that he is actually announcing that the seatbelt light has been turned off.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 18:15
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I don't understand why this individual is debated about here? What he did ask for the FAA during his Boeing days (likely by higher request) got approved by the FAA. So it's some FAA topic.
With his career it's no surprise that he is well connected with big MAX customers and works for one of them now. So what? No reason to put him in the crosshairs.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 18:33
  #2254 (permalink)  

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Seconded! And names in the public can be very dangerous.

Despite the buoyant social site profile, the individual worked inside a QA'd system.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 18:50
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Originally Posted by FlightDetent View Post

And names in the public can be very dangerous.
Agreed, however this guy put his own name in the public domain by refusing to comply with a Grand Jury subpoena issued by U.S. Justice Department.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 19:36
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I don't understand why this individual is debated about here? What he did ask for the FAA during his Boeing days (likely by higher request) got approved by the FAA. So it's some FAA topic.
With his career it's no surprise that he is well connected with big MAX customers and works for one of them now. So what? No reason to put him in the crosshairs.
The FAA did not initiate the problem, Boeing did, and it was that individual who did it.

It is up to the DOJ to ascertain how much Boeing knew, and how much they hid, and who hid it.

It is a criminal investigation. The DOJ is fact finding. That is why it matters.

Claiming the 5th on document production????? Boeing has already given the DOJ the documents, and this guy refused under self-incrimination rules??? Won the documents be the same?

As far as technical pilots, that is not an issue, Boeing hires grads out of UND and calls them tech pilots...We can see from the quals, that Boeing wanted a person with certification and documentation experience, not flight experience. You can make your own judgment on the validity of that coupled with Boeing perception of the cert of the MAX program

For me personally, it is an issue when someone was an instructor, and claims to have combat experience.


We really dont have to debate it here, the press is on this...

Last edited by Smythe; 8th Sep 2019 at 20:13.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 20:07
  #2257 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Smythe View Post
Claiming the 5th on document production?????
That works, sometimes. See the "act of production doctrine."

Just give them the documents...Boeing already has.
If "Boeing already has" provided the same documents, the government doesn't need to subpoena them from Forkner, at least not to have access to the documents themselves. If that is the case, his attorneys will likely have a better chance of quashing the subpoena.
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Old 8th Sep 2019, 20:07
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I have flown with manufacturers pilots, they are not sky gods.
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Old 9th Sep 2019, 08:01
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I think we're debating a single pilot here as capitalism has a reputation for pushing dodgy stuff out the door to get a quick $$$. Especially in a safety related industry such as Aerospace there is only one safeguard that really really works when the system is putting out unsafe product - a low level employee that sees the danger and is willing to speak out. To my mind that is a lot of responsibility to put on one persons shoulder, a person who has a pension, mortgage, career, car loans, young family etc. And especially in a regulated system such as Aerospace it is negligent to operate in this way, Factory production lines have big red stop buttons that stop the whole line, why not something upstairs in the design and engineering offices when there is truly a unsafe situation developing. There must be loads of engineers and safety people at B that knew MCAS was a disaster in the making, I'm interested in why there wasn't some whistle-blowing hotline where these concerns could be brought up to an independent safety person.

G
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Old 9th Sep 2019, 09:35
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There is a thread on whistle blowers within this hallowed website which is easily found using the search function. If its correct then I for one can see why there is a shortage of dedicated whistle blowers. It seems from that, blowing the whistle achieves nothing but loss of career.

However maybe that thread was inaccurate??

Wunwing
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