A former Boeing official has refused to turn over crucial 737 MAX development documentation, after he cited the Fifth Amendment.
According to The Seattle Times, Mark Forkner, Boeing’s chief technical pilot on the 737 MAX program, refused to turn over documents requested by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of their investigation.
It’s unclear what documentation is being sought after, however it’s known that it is for an investigation covering the design and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX.
Exercising the Fifth Amendment is a clear right however it can be seen as an admission of guilt, further complicating the case.
Forkner reportedly worked at Boeing from 2011 to 2018 and now works at Southwest Airlines as a first officer.
During his time at Boeing, it is said that he was often anxious about deadlines and management pressure, during the development of the 737 MAX, resulting in frequent visits to peers for help.
Adding to the curiosity within the investigation, Forkner was behind the suggestion of not informing customers of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
MCAS was designed in a last minute attempt to overcome a handling characteristic, this saw the nose pitch up as a result of the forward and high mounted CFM LEAP engines.
A flawed design, the system would take angle of attack data, from a single sensor, and adjust the horizontal stabiliser to point the nose down if a stall was imminent.
It is this system that is believed to be the cause of the crashes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610, both resulting in 346 lives gone.
Worsening the situation, the zero mention of MCAS was paired with an agreement to train pilots digitally through a one hour differences course.
“The 737 MAX was certified in accordance with the identical FAA requirements and processes that have governed and certification of previous new airplanes and derivatives.”Early Boeing statement via The Seattle Times
It is currently unknown if Forkner and the Department of Justice have discussed conditions that could potentially see the documentation handed over.
Whether or not the Fifth Amendment can be entirely exercised depends on quite a few legal terms.
Experts in contact with The Seattle Times on the subject say this could be an effort to seek protection over possible criminal charges, or possibly something far greater for the individual or the company is at play.
What’s your take on this situation?