FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas jury found a former Boeing Co. pilot not guilty of deceiving his counterpart at the Federal Aviation Administration about a 737 Max flight-control system later blamed for two fatal crashes.
The jury found Mark Forkner not guilty on all four counts of wire fraud in what prosecutors described as a scheme to enrich Boeing
by defrauding American Airlines Group Inc.
and Southwest Airlines Co.
of tens of millions of dollars. Each count carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Forkner was accused of misleading the FAA about the flight-control system known as MCAS to reduce how much training pilots would need to fly it, thus making the jet more attractive to airlines.
Forkner had pleaded not guilty, saying federal prosecutors have targeted him as a scapegoat. Defense attorneys noted Forkner wasn’t an engineer and that many others were involved in the flight-control system’s design and certification.
Forkner was the company’s chief technical pilot for the 737 Max during the airplane’s development. In his role he was responsible for training materials and pilot manuals for the aircraft. He left Boeing in 2018.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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