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mzlin
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Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:32 am

This is big news to me, and since it precedes the ET302 crash and the grounding of the MAX I think it is worth a separate thread from those topics: The DOJ had opened an investigation into Boeing and the FAA in February 2019, prior to the ET302 crash, on a topic related to the 737 MAX certification. This is only coming to light as an explanation into why the texts between Forkner and Gustavsson were disclosed by Boeing to DOJ in February but not to the FAA.

"Boeing has known about the messages for many months. It provided the exchange in February — the month before the second crash in Ethiopia — to the Department of Justice, which had opened a criminal investigation into the development of the 737 MAX, according to a person familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity about confidential legal proceedings."

Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/b ... isled-faa/

Forkner was the same person who:
1. asked the FAA for permission to keep MCAS out of the flight manual prior to the 737 MAX certification
2. recently (September 2019) took the 5th to avoid turning over documents to the current Congressional investigation (https://www.seattletimes.com/business/b ... rotection/)

My guess (total guess) is that after the Lion Air crash, the DOJ received a request to investigate the possibility of criminal wrongdoing leading to the lack of MCAS in the manual (maybe a whistleblower, or a complaint from a pilot outside Boeing). This could have led to the DOJ focusing on Forkner's work (still speculating here). Perhaps the DOJ was investigating whether Forkner had a legal responsibility to correct the wrong information he had inadvertently provided to the FAA on MCAS. This could have been the same information he referred to in the text conversation when he wrote that he had unknowingly lied to the FAA about MCAS, which some have proposed was because he had only known of MCAS v0.1 which was only active at high speeds and high G forces. This would explain why this particular text conversation might be turned over, i.e. it reveals when Forkner first became aware that MCAS behavior went beyond what he had described to the FAA in the request to keep MCAS out of the manual. It would also explain why Forkner used his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
 
mzlin
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:50 am

I missed this earlier article that confirms the DOj investigation began before the ET302 crash: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/p ... ond-crash/

However that article had no specifics on the investigation beyond being about certification. The recent text message transcript gives some insight into what aspects of certification are being investigated.
 
vulindlela744
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:56 am

This could really be the beginning of the end for the MAX IMO.
 
LittleSprocket
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:30 am

vulindlela744 wrote:
This could really be the beginning of the end for the MAX IMO.


That could be a good thing to be completely honest. There shouldn’t be a need to have software maintain your aircraft being level. Anyone that’s dealt with programming knows that bugs come out of nowhere and a lot of times they are catastrophic when put through certain extreme cases.

I’m just hoping this doesn’t make Boeing go under the same way that McDonald Douglas did.
 
sxf24
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:08 pm

LittleSprocket wrote:
vulindlela744 wrote:
This could really be the beginning of the end for the MAX IMO.


That could be a good thing to be completely honest. There shouldn’t be a need to have software maintain your aircraft being level. Anyone that’s dealt with programming knows that bugs come out of nowhere and a lot of times they are catastrophic when put through certain extreme cases.

I’m just hoping this doesn’t make Boeing go under the same way that McDonald Douglas did.


Umm, there’d be no jet airplanes if there wasn’t software.
 
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longhauler
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:18 pm

I find this very disturbing.

Up until the last few weeks, I was always under the impression (naively maybe) that the MCAS accidents were without blame. That Boeing was not aware of the "gotcha" that lay in wait for the right circumstances. Now it appears they were aware.

This goes right up there with the DC-10 cargo door/rear cabin floor venting accidents. Where McDD made deals in the background to keep it flying even knowing that an accident was possible. Just like the deaths on the Turkish DC-10, ultimately someone (within Boeing) is responsible for the deaths on Ethiopian.
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dtw2hyd
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:20 pm

The aircraft certification process is an honor system, lying to DOJ is a federal offense. So as long as FAA and BCA don't lie to DOJ investigators, they are in the clear. What happened during certification is irrelevant.

BTW, this thread is unnecessary, there is a master MAX thread.
All posts are just opinions.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:49 pm

LittleSprocket wrote:
vulindlela744 wrote:
This could really be the beginning of the end for the MAX IMO.


That could be a good thing to be completely honest. There shouldn’t be a need to have software maintain your aircraft being level. Anyone that’s dealt with programming knows that bugs come out of nowhere and a lot of times they are catastrophic when put through certain extreme cases.

I’m just hoping this doesn’t make Boeing go under the same way that McDonald Douglas did.



So much pure speculation here it's becoming mind numbing. Boeing isn't going anywhere and certainly not going broke.
 
Jetty
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:03 pm

dtw2hyd wrote:
BTW, this thread is unnecessary, there is a master MAX thread.

There isn’t a master MAX thread, the one you mean is about the grounding specifically. This has nothing to do with the grounding, if the MAX was never grounded this investigation would have happened as well, as it’s about Boeing’s actions predating the grounding.
 
planecane
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:10 pm

LittleSprocket wrote:
vulindlela744 wrote:
This could really be the beginning of the end for the MAX IMO.


That could be a good thing to be completely honest. There shouldn’t be a need to have software maintain your aircraft being level. Anyone that’s dealt with programming knows that bugs come out of nowhere and a lot of times they are catastrophic when put through certain extreme cases.

I’m just hoping this doesn’t make Boeing go under the same way that McDonald Douglas did.

Evey FBW aircraft relies on software to maintain the aircraft flying level. There is more redundancy but it isn't impossible to have an unexpected series of failures and/or bugs.
 
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rikkus67
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:26 pm

Here's another wrinkle. The dispute with Bombardier, and the timing of such, considering these newest revelations. One has to wonder how that also factors into the growing controversy... and how that might have been strategic in deflecting focus on Boeing's (then) potential serious issues with the Max. I don't think that I am too far off in saying that all of this is related...
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dampfnudel
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:32 am

vulindlela744 wrote:
This could really be the beginning of the end for the MAX IMO.

I know Boeing will try to move heaven and earth before that happens. I think Boeing would survive if every MAX had to be scrapped (unlikely in my opinion at the moment), but there would be years of pain and probably the biggest house cleaning in the company’s history. That house cleaning will probably still happen even if the MAX returns to the sky.
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tomaheath
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:40 am

Why and how does this effect the MAX not returning to service?
 
MildBlueYonder
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:20 am

We’ve heard a lot about Muilenburg being in the crosshairs but does anyone know if any scrutiny is being applied to McNerney under whose watch most of this actually unfolded?
 
mzlin
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:28 am

Some more important details on the timeline of events: turned out Forkner asked the FAA to remove MCAS from the flight manual AFTER the text messages about MCAS running wild in the simulator. Per the Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/tr ... story.html):

"The flurry of messages between the pilots came over a 10-minute stretch in 2016 ... A separate set of emails from Forkner to FAA officials, in which the Boeing executive often assumed a familiar or chummy tone, showed an active company effort to remove references to the MCAS from the Flight Crew Operating Manual. “I noticed a few things that should be changed,” Forkner wrote to one FAA official in 2017. “Delete MCAS, recall we decided we weren’t going to cover it in the” Flight Crew Operating Manual since it is “way outside the normal operating envelope,” meaning what pilots would typically face."

Now Forkner's attorney is suggesting the sim was malfunctioning, which could be true. We would then need to pay attention to what information Forkner was subsequently given about MCAS, and if he was later able to test its effects at low altitude and low speed in a functioning sim. I expect him to make an argument that he believed based on a later sim session that an MCAS misfire would be easy to catch and correct.

By the way, the lack of MCAS in the manual not only meant the pilots were unaware, but also was a factor in how the FAA flight standardization board for the MAX concluded that no sim training was necessary: "A report released last week by a group of international and U.S. aviation safety experts found the decision to remove the reference to the MCAS in that document meant the FAA board that considers requirements for preparing pilots “was not in a position to adequately assess training needs.”"

This result of course was what Boeing execs had demanded from the start of the program. So one wonders if Forkner had truly misjudged himself the appropriateness of removing MCAS from the manual, or if instead he received an order from above to get it done despite any reservations he may have had.
Last edited by mzlin on Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:46 am, edited 5 times in total.
 
mzlin
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:34 am

tomaheath wrote:
Why and how does this effect the MAX not returning to service?


My guess:

If Boeing and FAA has gone over the testing data with a fine-tooth comb already during the grounding, essentially double-checking the MAX certification, then this news of the focus of the DOJ investigation from prior to the grounding would not change anything.

If however, Boeing and the FAA had not thought of going over all certification data to catch the existence of other errors, then this revelation might cause Congress or the current FAA officials to realize that all certification data needs to be re-reviewed for truthfulness, which could then affect the MAX RTS timeline.
 
Virtual737
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:54 am

mzlin wrote:
If however, Boeing and the FAA had not thought of going over all certification data to catch the existence of other errors, then this revelation might cause Congress or the current FAA officials to realize that all certification data needs to be re-reviewed for truthfulness, which could then affect the MAX RTS timeline.


Exaclty. This would put additional pressure on FAA to further scutinize the whole MAX certification program if they were not already. ie. not just limiting it to items directly related to MCAS, something that other major certifiers would appear to be doing anyway.
 
Passedv1
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:19 am

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-forkne ... 103#search

Here is the link to Fokners Linked In page.

2002-2008 Alaska Airlines First Officer

2008-2011 FAA - Lead Planner ATO

2011-2018 Boeing 737 Chief Technical Pilot

2018 - Present Southwest Airlines 737 First Officer.

Suspicious? It seems like an odd time to leave. Pilots are generally either management types that fly their desks their whole career or line types that couldn't be paid enough to sit behind a desk. He definitely seems like a "desk jockey" type so I doubt he suddenly had an epiphany and decided to return to line flying only coincidentally just as the 737 Max issues were blowing up. Perhaps he is the whistle blower, or more likely, fired the whistleblower.
 
Passedv1
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:52 am

Disregard last hypothesis. The other technical pilot who received the texts at Boeing was apparently Patrik Gustaffson who is the new 737 Chief Technical Pilot.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/pagustavsson
 
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Faro
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 7:40 am

longhauler wrote:
I find this very disturbing.

Up until the last few weeks, I was always under the impression (naively maybe) that the MCAS accidents were without blame. That Boeing was not aware of the "gotcha" that lay in wait for the right circumstances. Now it appears they were aware.

This goes right up there with the DC-10 cargo door/rear cabin floor venting accidents. Where McDD made deals in the background to keep it flying even knowing that an accident was possible. Just like the deaths on the Turkish DC-10, ultimately someone (within Boeing) is responsible for the deaths on Ethiopian.




:checkmark: :checkmark:


Indeed extremely worrying...if they knew outright the risk and undertook to hush the issue, the 737MAX is in deep trouble...unless a software fix is feasible to the satisfaction of regulators worldwide, the airframe may required physical re-engineering...which will be costly and incur ever greater compensation fees with the airlines...

The share price has already taken a hit...but now the level of consolidated shareholders' equity is becoming important...this will put a further dent into their equity, perhaps a significant one...but I don't think Boeing is in any risk of going under...the US government would not allow it for defence purposes...and the consequences are unthinkable on a commercial scale...you cannot just pull 50% of world airliner production output without draconian consequences...


Faro
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zkojq
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Re: Department of Justice investigation into Boeing and FAA prior to ET302

Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:42 am

mzlin wrote:
Some more important details on the timeline of events: turned out Forkner asked the FAA to remove MCAS from the flight manual AFTER the text messages about MCAS running wild in the simulator. Per the Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/tr ... story.html):

"The flurry of messages between the pilots came over a 10-minute stretch in 2016 ... A separate set of emails from Forkner to FAA officials, in which the Boeing executive often assumed a familiar or chummy tone, showed an active company effort to remove references to the MCAS from the Flight Crew Operating Manual. “I noticed a few things that should be changed,” Forkner wrote to one FAA official in 2017. “Delete MCAS, recall we decided we weren’t going to cover it in the” Flight Crew Operating Manual since it is “way outside the normal operating envelope,” meaning what pilots would typically face."


Very curious. The folks in the MAX grounding thread keep insisting that the references to MCAS were removed by Ethiopian Airlines and Lionair. :?: :scratchchin:
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