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Boeing pilot involved in Max testing is indicted in Texas

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Boeing pilot involved in Max testing is indicted in Texas

Old 14th Oct 2021, 23:13
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Boeing pilot involved in Max testing is indicted in Texas


DALLAS (AP) — A Boeing pilot involved in testing the 737 Max jetliner was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the plane, which was later involved in two deadly crashes.

The indictment accuses Mark A. Forkner of giving the Federal Aviation Administration false and incomplete information about an automated flight-control system that played a role in the crashes, which killed 346 people.

Prosecutors said that because of Forkner’s “alleged deception,” the system was not mentioned in key FAA documents, pilot manuals or pilot-training material supplied to airlines.

The flight-control system automatically pushed down the noses of Max jets that crashed in 2018 in Indonesia and 2019 in Ethiopia. The pilots tried unsuccessfully to regain control, but both planes went into nosedives minutes after taking off. Most pilots were unaware of the system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, until after the first crash.

Forkner, 49, was charged with two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and four counts of wire fraud. Federal prosecutors said he is expected to make his first appearance in court on Friday in Fort Worth, Texas. If convicted on all counts, he could face a sentence of up to 100 years in prison.
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Old 14th Oct 2021, 23:44
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According to reporting in the Seattle Times, Mr. Forkner faces potential criminal sentences, if convicted, of 20 years per count on the wire fraud counts, and 10 years on each count on the counts alleging fraud with regard to aircraft parts in interstate commerce.

Unsurprisingly, the indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in the jurisdiction of the Northern District of Texas. The same federal district court jurisdiction in which Boeing's plea bargain was entered.

So in the sordid and, at times, shocking saga of the 737 MAX we now receive another invitation for teeing up any of several declarations of over-riding realities by which some sense can be made of what transpired. That Boeing ventured far off course after the McDonnell merger. That corporate governance under capitalism necessarily descends into corruption and betrayal of public interest. That the "system" -- the regulators, the Congressional committees, the other major and significant players in the aviation safety ecosystem -- will make the proper noises, go through the motions, and in the end, nothing of real importance will change. And of course, with one individual bound up and about to be keel-hauled, the unfairness of this saga being loaded onto the shoulders and soul of that one defendant SHOULD invite decrying the lack of -- in today's parlance -- accountability anywhere else where it belongs.

One can hope that good people who have tried to call the shots accurately in the aftermath of the crashes, the revelations, and the corporate machinations by the airframer will yet prevail. That the House Committee, and the FAA Inspector General as well, who did such outstanding work earlier, will sustain and advance their efforts toward accountability. Hope, they say, springs.... But then the Major League team I follow won't be going to the World Series.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 00:59
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This seems appalling.

The lowest level guy who did what his management asked of him is facing the wrath of the justice system.

The management meanwhile swan off with tens of millions apiece (at a guess).

The 737 MAX crashes were a management failure. Even after the second one Boeing resisted grounding the aircraft. Boeing management caused these crashes and pretending that an individual engineer was responsible is ridiculous. But here we are.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 01:22
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It does seem like they found their scapegoat....I'm not saying he's not culpable, but to jimjim1's point there are a few more people that should be answering this call far above him and is the FAA going to accept their role?
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 01:29
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Regardless of the guilt of others, this guy was the FAA designated pilot to represent them and the aircraft operators. He lost sight of that and now he needs to pay in such a way that no one in the future will dare to put personal profit ahead of customer's lives.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 01:48
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Having been a DER/AR for most of my career (AR is the delegated equivalent of a DER), I'm quite frankly appalled at Forkner's (alleged) behavior. If management had instructed me to do something like that, I'd have told them to shove it, and I have little doubt that all those DER/ARs that I worked with over the years would have done the same.
Forkner's actions have brought all ARs into disrepute.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 01:59
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If the charges are true, one wonders (at least I do) what his motivation was. Keeping a job? Money under the table? Ego? I have never understood people lying for management and placing themselves in legal vulnerability.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 02:46
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Not as simple as that..I was talking to a swiss at a small hotel in a Spanish fishing village about the demise of Swissair and how turning a blind eye for a decade by most of the employees in the company facilitated it. Tribal loyalty, insecurity, worries about getting another job, feeding the family, health care, the lack of support for whistle blowers....and of course the bullies at the top are always Teflon coated
(management were warned by many pilots about the standards at Crossair which would lead to a crash which they ignored..I witnessed one of our chiefs threaten a captain with the loss of his career if he didn’t toe the party line..then they had two fatal accidents..one rolled onto its back after a guy misread the artificial horizon and the second was a guy I knew who wasn’t up to flying a jet and took nearly 6 months on his third go at the conversion course).

Last edited by blind pew; 15th Oct 2021 at 07:23.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 03:16
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I'm absolutely certain no-one else was involved in this deception - just Forkner.🙄
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 03:28
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It's how companies work. Big, big oil company ran its own private offshore helicopter operation, operations manual ordered all pilots to comply fully with all company and regulatory directives. How did they go about that? Short answer, they didn't bother, all operations required an alternate, didn't bother, didn't bother with weather reports either. If protest was made about not complying with operations manual the excuse was because it was a private operation operation manuals were not a requirement. Complaint about not planning for alternates as demanded by the regulator became an economic argument, as in, if we operated to charter standards, as dictated by the operations manual, the operation would become so expensive that it would be put out to contract, ergo, you all lose your jobs. Company answer ultimately to all concerns was, we have operated for 27 years doing it this way and never had an accident, so all is good. Potential accidents were prevented by always occurring in benign circumstances and conditions, lucky them.

Guess who the operations manual said was going to be accountable for any untoward event?
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 07:14
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Yet someone with the opposite attitude managed to get the top job ... because that's what the management wanted, and why he was chosen. Not for technical skill.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 09:34
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I do hope that the investigations don’t stop at Forkner. It’s easier to say you’ve found the rogue pilot/engineer and pile in but we all know it was a huge corporate failing involving many, many others. A fish rots from the head, as the saying goes...
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 10:35
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FullWings, I agree.
Unfortunately, there appears to be great differences between legal views of blame and accountability, and recent views in aviation safety. Also cultural aspects - litigious societies.

“ The causality credo aligns with the legal tradition of individual responsibility for accidents, where the bad cause is either a crime or a failure to fulfil a legal duty. “

“ It is also convenient for an organisation to focus on individual responsibility. This is not only legally desirable but frames the problem in a way that enables the organisation to continue to operate as usual, leaving its structures, culture and power systems intact. “

State of science: evolving perspectives on 'human error' July 2021

download / read full text
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 11:58
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they should move up the food chain as well. But wait, CEO has got the golden parachute, didn't he. LOL. I hope this guy will end up in prison, because he has blood on his hands. But as I said, it should not stop there.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 12:12
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There are a lot of mentions of "alleged" in the various stories about this pilot.

Let's not find him guilty, yet.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 12:17
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A shame but standard procedure. Going for the scapegoat at the controls to keep the top off the hook . Always been like that, why do we expect different ? .
As to the justice against big corporations I was following in 1987-90 the trail of the ferry "Herald of free enterprise" ( what an appropriate name !) capsizing . same results , the inquiry went deep into management and corporate failures that led to the accident but the trail acquitted everybody in 1990 .https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-...903-story.html
Maybe this time things turn out differently but I do not hold my breath.
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 16:25
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Will Boeing be paying his lawyers
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 17:47
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I'll say, probably "no" on whether Boeing will pay for Forkner's attorneys.

Without minimizing his role or responsibilities, indemnification for defense counsel representation typically is provided for the senior-most managers, as well as directors (board of...) and corporate officers. But even if this indemnity were available somehow, Boeing has admitted that this employee engaged in wrongful conduct - and wrongful conduct works as a disqualification for indemnity that otherwise might apply. And it's glaring in this matter--the admissions by Boeing were part of its plea bargain to criminal charges in the very same federal district court. (Even though the plea bargain didn't cite Forkner by name, it's pretty obvious.)

That the defense could confront very uphill slogging in presenting a case showing how little criminal intent (if any) Forkner had, while also showing how massive, how hard-to-believe was the corporate obtuseness and greed -- that'll be for a LegalRumoursNet or something.

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Old 15th Oct 2021, 18:18
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Originally Posted by WillowRun 6-3 View Post
Boeing has admitted that this employee engaged in wrongful conduct - and wrongful conduct works as a disqualification for indemnity that otherwise might apply.
Would that not be a decision for Boeing to make, rather than a foregone conclusion ?
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Old 15th Oct 2021, 18:19
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Originally Posted by WillowRun 6-3 View Post
indemnification for defense counsel representation typically is provided for the senior-most managers, as well as directors (board of...) and corporate officers.
Is this some difference in US law or practice ? In the UK, if I do some outright stupidity while on the company business, it's covered by our Professional Indemnity insurance and the legal costs by the company. Even something as arch as driving the company vehicle while drunk and getting in a collision. Been there, had to fund that out of the departmental P&L. Our lawyer said it was quite a bit of their work.
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