Revealed: Boeing’s former chief technical pilot complained to the aviation company about the 737 Max YEARS ago and claims he was pressured by management to ensure pilots didn’t require expensive training
- Mark Forkner, Boeing’s former chief technical pilot, told co-workers in messages that he was concerned for the MAX planes after issues with the simulator
- Forkner allegedly persuaded the FAA not to require extra training before allowing MAX pilots to fly the planes
- Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President said: ”Boeing misled pilots…about the safety of the 737 MAX’
- The 737 MAX jets had two deadly crashes within months, killing 346 people
- Airlines have grounded MAX jets while Boeing investigates
Mark Forkner, Boeing’s former chief technical pilot for the MAX, complained years ago about pressure from management to ensure the new fleet of planes would not require expensive pilot training
A former senior pilot for Boeing was reportedly telling co-workers for years about pressure coming from his bosses to ensure the fleet of 737 MAX jets did not have expensive pilot training.
Mark Forkner, who was chief technical pilot for the MAX, was part of internal messages that Boeing turned over to congressional investigators, suggesting he might have had concerns about the plane’s flight control system after encountering problems with a simulator. the Wall Street Journal reports.
For the past few months, federal agents have been questioning Forkner’s former colleagues and supervisors about developing Boeing’s best selling jet after two deadly crashes months apart.
737 MAX jets have been grounded as investigators look for answers that led to the two crashes
They ask pilots about Forkner’s successful effort in 2016 and 2017 to persuade the Federal Aviation Administration not to require extra simulator sessions before allowing MAX pilots to fly passengers, the WSJ reports.
‘Mark flew the MAX. His Air Force buddies flew the MAX. He would never put himself, his friends or any passenger in an unsafe plane,’ Forkner’s attorney David Gerger told the Wall Street Journal.
However, it was uncovered that Forkner, who started at Boeing in 2011, and fellow technical pilot Patrik Gustavsson complained about the new automated system known as MCAS during simulated flights in 2016 messages.
In one message Forkner writes, ‘Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious.’
He then writes, in reference to the FAA being in the process of certifying the 737 MAX as safe to carry passengers: ‘So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly).’
An anonymous pilot said Forkner repeatedly indicated that he feared losing his job if the FAA rejected Boeing’s arguments to minimize training.
The 737 Max jets were grounded in March following two horrific crashes that killed 346 people. The Ethiopian Airlines crash wreckage pictured above on March 12 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia
However, Boeing in a statement backed away from the latest controversy, saying text messages between the pilots have been misinterpreted and it was ‘unfortunate’ that they were released without ‘meaningful explanation’.
When messages with Forkner and another pilot were obtained, Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President Jon Weaks said it showed ‘Boeing misled pilots, government regulators and other aviation experts about the safety of the 737 MAX.’
Since July 2018, Forkner has been a technical adviser for Southwest Airlines, his LinkedIn page shows.
Boeing said messages between pilots about problems with MAX planes during testing have been misinterpreted and and it was ‘unfortunate’ that they were released without ‘meaningful explanation’
One of Forkner’s main responsibilities at Boeing was to make sure airlines purchasing the MAX wouldn’t have to pull pilots off moneymaking passenger flights for additional training, the Wall Street Journal said.
The crisis now goes deeper than the crashes that killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
The Justice Department probe is examining how the MAX was designed and certified as safe by the FAA and, equally as important, whether Boeing officials may have misled regulators as part of that process.
The MAX aircraft remain grounded as answers are sought. Southwest has them on the tarmac until at least early February.
Boeing feeling the heat, removed Kevin McAllister as head of its commercial airplanes unit, making him the highest-profile departure from the company since the MAX ordeal.