So who are these FAA officials who want to tell the truth about former Boeing test pilot Mark Forkner and the 737 Max?
I don’t know their names, but I wish I did.
Even more, I want to know why the Federal Aviation Administration lawyers spent weeks and weeks trying to keep them from talking to Forkner, the only individual to be criminally charged in the 737 Max debacle. This is important because these folks say that Forkner is a scapegoat. So wouldn’t anyone interested in the truth want to know why FAA insiders think that?
Last fall, the unidentified four gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Federal prosecutors in Ft. Worth where Forkner will go on trial in March for fraud related to the certification of the 737 Max. Before I get to what the PowerPoint said, just note that the prosecution of Forkner was part of a Boeing plea that concluded that the wrongdoing in the process of certifying a fatally flawed airplane was not pervasive or the result of widespread chicanery at Boeing. I’ll give you a minute if you want to roll your eyes.
Okay, so these FAA staffers were quite adamant in their presentation to the folks prosecuting Forkner that pursuing this case is a
“potential miscarriage of justice (aka Scape Goat)”
Forkner had nothing to do with the problem that caused two Max aircraft to crash within 5 months of each other in 2018 and 2019. To paraphrase, they explained to the prosecution that the crashes weren’t about pilot training – Forkner’s subject area at Boeing. They were about engineering. And more specifically, linking the ignition of MCAS to a single angle of attack indicator.
In a document filed with the court, Forkner’s attorney David Gerger, explains that the prosecutors were told by the FAA presenters that “The effects of a single erroneous angle of attack failure case should never have been allowed. It is non-compliant as it was originally designed…This was a failure of engineering, not operations, not training.”
“The problem with MCAS, as you have learned, concerned an ENGINEERING issue that Mr. Forkner was neither qualified, expected, nor responsible for,” one of the slides reads.
Late last week, after a flurry of lengthy, legal citation-filled letters crisscrossed the country, the FAA withdrew its objection. Forkner and his lawyers will have a chance to talk to the staffers (and one former FAA employee). Between what they have to say and lots of other information about conditions at Boeing during the development and manufacturing of the Max, I’m pretty sure, Forkner’s lawyer David Gerger will be channeling his inner Perry Mason too.
The rest of us can start channeling Alexander Hamilton, or at least the one brought to life by literary and musical genius, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Thanks to some bold insiders at the FAA, when this case does come to trial we might learn more about what when on in the rooms where the 737 Max certification happened.
No one really knows how the game is played
The art of the trade
How the sausage gets made
We just assume that it happens
But no one else is in the room where it happens
Author of The New York Times bestseller, The Crash Detectives, I am also a journalist, public speaker and broadcaster specializing in aviation and travel.