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FAA inspector says she felt bullied by Boeing’s ex-chief technical pilot during 737 MAX certification

FORT WORTH, TEXAS — An FAA regulator who was in charge of the certification of Boeing's 737 MAX jet said she felt “bullied” by Boeing’s ex-chief technical pilot Mark Forkner as his company pushed for lower training standards on the aircraft. ( More...

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avionik99 18
"training that would have triggered penalties of up to $1 million per airplane purchase for Boeing."

Perhaps if that was not structured in such a costly manner this never would have happened? Who came up with this very stupid policy?? If you want something done the right way, then make the right way the easiest way! Its what I always thought being an aircraft avionics/mechanic for 47 years.
Roy Hunte 8
Corner cutting never saved lives.
Peter Fuller 2
Re “Who came up with this very stupid policy?”
I believe the $1 million per frame discount, if the FAA required simulator or flight training to qualify pilots on the 737 MAX, rather than just computer-based differences training, was in the purchase contract between Boeing and launch customer Southwest. So, blame both Boeing and Southwest for creating an incentive for Boeing to push hard for a differences-training-only ruling by the FAA. Money talks….
Dennis Parker 53
If an inspector can feel "bullied", the wrong person was selected for the job.
wx1996 20
I see the problem a bit differently. When the inspector was hired their knowledge and skills were current and qualified them for the job. Now they have enjoyed their job for 20 years interest in staying current in the aviation engineering space and no need to remain current to keep their job. They try to inspect a new carbon fiber structure with titanium augmentation using old school aluminum published formulas and stress factors. The new engineer doing the work looks at them like they are out of their mind. The new engineer must now spend lost of time training the old school inspector in how the new materials work. Congressional testimony called this Boeing excerpting undo influence over the certification process as Boeing, and yes AirBus, both have to invest large sums of money "Training" the FAA inspector with the data they need to do their job. Yes the FAA has some great talent, but the sad part is most line inspectors do their 9-5 and go home. The FAA should force them into school on a regular basis. A common example is a carbon structure dissection, which greatly reduces strength, is referenced as pealing paint. When the inspector should be taking action to block the use of the resource vs giving a waiver until it can be repainted.
chugheset 6
Then maybe the problem IS with the infrastructure at the FAA. Assuming you are correct in your analysis, she should have been able to tap into the knowledge resources of her colleagues and/or training curriculum to determine the correct level of training.
alex hidveghy 1
I believe it’s call RECURRENT training!
Pilots do it twice a year. So do flight attendants, engineers, A &Ps and airport operations personnel. Also airport fire fighters and fueling tenants. All are mandated by the FAA who inspect them at least once annually.
Surely they have the same? Tell me it ain’t so. And if so, why!…..
Fraser MacPhee 25
Yup. It's not my fault, cuz I'm a victim.
linbb 28
I was an A&P at the start of my life as a mechanic and the first thing you are taught is the FAA keeps an iron fist on how you do things. They have the hammer and will use it if you slip up also when they certify things. That inspector should have been office help answering the phone nothing beyond that with responsibility. She is why things slipped by in the FAA wow.
Jim Allen 5
Not when your management has different priorities.
Mark Kortum 4
“I was shocked, dismayed, sad, angry — all of those feelings,” Klein said. Reminds me of that old song: "Feelings, wo-o-o feelings, wo-o-o,"
Tim Dyck 22
Sounds like this FAA Inspector was not the right person for the job. If she can easily be bullied then how can she perform her duties properly? This isn’t a job for a pushover as we all know what happens if a person in her position cannot perform the duties required.
pjshield 12
"Klein recently left the Aircraft Evaluation Group in Seattle and took a “promotion” to the FAA’s Denver aircraft certification office, she testified Monday."
The PETER PRINCIPLE perfectly demonstrated by our FAA. If you can't do the job you were assigned, promote them up to lessen further damage.
John Gideon 13
Technically, the Peter Principle states that people are promoted until they become incompetent at their job. This reads more like the Dilbert Principle where poor performers are promoted to a level where they can do the least amount of damage.
Mark Paladino 11
The more electronics and software do and can do the more pilots rely on it. The more they rely on it the less they know about actually flying the airplane. Stick and rudder pilots are becoming a thing of the past. The more those skills erode the more designers are doing things to compensate. The more the aircraft does the more pilots rely on its capability. The same is happening in vehicles. General aviation is now plagued with "pilots" involved in stall/spin accidents. They are wadding up aircraft at an alarming rate. The advent of glass cockpits has led to "pilots" becoming "system managers" and keeping their heads buried inside the aircraft. When I had my avionics repair station I had a good relationship with the FAA inspectors. To a large extent they didn't know the deep technical details. They were trained and conditioned by and to follow FAA policy. Back then technical stuff didn't change fast like it is doing today. Aircraft like vehicles are headed to pilots and drivers being system managers and passive observers. There is no going back...
Randy Brown 11
patrick baker 29
this admission from the FAA lady inspector does very little for women or faa inspectors, and tells me she was ill chosen to do that job, or badly trained, and the wrong personality to be in that position. Inspectors need to be guard dogs, not attack dogs, and certainly not lap dogs.
Mark Kortum 10
What is more amazing is that she is so self-unaware that she believes she is inditing Forkner when she is actually demonstrating her own incompetence.
alex hidveghy 1
And even more amazing is Forkner was cleared of ALL charges by a TX court only today! What does that tell you?
Apart from that book mentioned earlier in this thread, people need to watch that recent Netflix documentary titled Downfall. It gives a comprehensive picture of how Boeing got in to such a mess. Must-see TV….
Shenghao Han 8
Personally, I think they should be wolves instead of dogs, meaning they should be independent instead bong on the leash of the only civilians airliner manufacturer in US.
Jim DeTour 4
If she didn't report discrepancies she observed then she could feel impelled to say later it was due to feeling bullied which is out of line with doing a good job. I'd think a lawyer would come up with the bullied excuse for her to use. Of course she might be imagining being bullied. I don't know if drug tests are required while the DC region has pot legal.
Stephen Donnelly 10
In a large diverse international conglomerate such as Boeing, there is no way Forkner could have pulled this off on his own. This tragedy smells all the way up to the CEO at the time of this project, David Muilenburg
Etienne Daniels 10
And, ......they resign and get a bonus on top instead of jail time. Is the USA some banana republic?
Jim Allen 7
Carlin put it best; “it’s a big club and you ain’t in it”. Cue the Mariachi band..
alex hidveghy 1
Well, he did get cleared of ALL charges in a TX court today and if you watch Netflix’s documentary Downfall, you’ll get some answers that’ll may your hair turn pink!
Jeraboam 10
The report said that she felt bullied by Forkner but it doesn't say that she gave in to his unprofessional behaviour, unless there is more to the issue than reported in the news article.
Sue Lockwood 7
There’s a lot of blame to go around here. If you sign off on it you’re responsible for it. Doesn’t bring the lost souls back but there has to be accountability in the form of prison time and/or penalties for everyone involved in the cover-up.
phil gibson 7
First, in my opinion, that “Inspector” was the wrong person for its position. Constructive communication was certainly lacking. Now it complains????
alan curtis 7
If Klein felt bullied to allow the lessor training, isn't she admitting she knew it was wrong? When will her trial be?

It sounds like we've found the "interface" where the problem was, and if Forkner isn't guilty....
Joel Wade 3
I can state unequivocally, having worked with Stacey during my time in the FAA as the Asst Principal Operations Inspector overseeing the Alaska Air Group, that if there was a bully in the room, it was Stacey. Even as early as 2012, the "McChord Mafia" was well ensconced in the AEG and the Peter Principle was being applied as liberally as possible. The FAA (i.e., Stacey Klein and James Kline, AEG Manager) bears considerable responsibility for this debacle.
Jim Allen 10
Did anyone forget the fact that 2 planes crashed because the FAA was ordered to take a “hands off” approach with Boeing? According to the book: the FAA told Boeing “you forced our hand”. Read about how they charged “extra” for software that would sync the readings from the pitot tubes. She was quite probably squeezed between Boeing and her own management and bullied by Boeing. It is not the company it once was.
George Wilhelmsen 9
Here we go again with the witch hunt.

I have stated it before, I'll state it again.

2 US aircrews had this malfunction, and they dealt with it per their training. The reached down on the right side of the console, and TURNED OFF MCAS.

They didn't fight the plane. They flew the plane.

2 FOREIGN aircrews had this SAME EVENT. They fought the plane, they didn't fly the plane.


Every plane flying has it's challenges. That is why pilots receive TYPE training.

This event is the same symptoms and problems as a TRIM RUNAWAY. It is easy to solve - unless you don't have the training.

We can't blame the foreign aircrew pilots - no, that might hurt someone's feelings. So we go through this drama, and the FAA inspector claims they felt bullied by the Boeing person.

They are the REGULATOR. Having worked in a regulated industry, we had a simple principle: Their rules, their ball, their referees - THEY WIN. Our job is to beat the point spread.

Will this ever end?
Ken Lane 5
Boeing intentionally told buyers the system was identical. They intentionally stated no additional training was necessary. And, they did not give MCAS information to buyers nor pilots.

I don't know how the US crews "turned off" the MCAS when it was not discussed in material. I'd love to know that one. Did they just start pulling breakers or what?
Jay Estes 4
My understanding is there was no way to fully disable the MCAS system, and there was no training about this system - so pilots didn't even know they were fighting a stability augmentation system...
Ron Streetenberger 3
Any unwanted rotation of the stab trim wheel can be stopped by turning the power to the electrical trim motor off by putting the guarded switch, located on the rear of the center console, in the down position. Manual stab trim remains available by manually turning the large wheel by hand. Some pilots I knew actually liked the manual trimming, which can be done with the auto trim power switch in the "on" position. Those pilots were true AVIATORS.
alex hidveghy 1
Watch Netflix documentary Downfall. It will give you answers that you have not seen before!
Jim Allen 5
How could they have turned off MCAS if they didn’t know about it? Per the book- It was removed from the manuals. Are you telling me that a foreign carrier can’t have qualified pilots because that’s what it sounds like you’re saying. Are they trained differently? I don’t know.
strickerje 3
They may not have specifically known about MCAS, but the procedure for handling runaway trim hasn't changed in 50 years.
Gary Bain 1
lynnpype 3
Neither domestic nor foreign aircrews were trained on MCAS. My understanding is that OP implies that the additional flight experience of domestic aircrews was helping them to pinpoint the origin of the issue in a short time and recover the plane.

However, to support this conclusion, one would also need to look at the number of times the event occurred. If foreign aircrews recovered 4 times and crashed 2 times, and domestic aircrews recovered 2 times and crashed 0 times, then these numbers alone are insufficient proof for the claim that domestic aircrews would be prepared better than foreign aircrews.
alex hidveghy 3
Again, watch Downfall, the new Netflix documentary. It will give you answers from pilots as well as Boeing engineers. They, too, have a voice.
Follow the money and shit flows downhill, not up should give everyone a clue……
Stefan Sobol 4
MCAS does not have an OFF switch.
Peter Fuller 6
The original poster, Mr. Wilhelmsen, meant the Stab Trim Cutout switches, which turn off power to the stab trim system, which also turns off MCAS.
Jay Estes 2
But how can a pilot know to remove power from the stab trim system, when they DO NOT KNOW from training there is an active stability maintenance system using them?
Peter Fuller 5
To a crew who doesn’t know that MCAS exists, MCAS activation presents as an uncommanded or runaway stab trim input. The drill for that is to turn off the Stab Trim Cutouts. Crew doesn’t need to know whether it’s MCAS doing its thing or some malfunction, the drill is the same.
lynnpype 2
The vast majority of 737 MAX airplanes, at the time of the grounding, were in use by foreign airlines. As a result, they would've statistically experienced more MCAS issues than domestic aircrews. However, you claim that both foreign and domestic aircrews encountered the issue two times.

To substantiate your claim, can you provide a source indicating that foreign aircrews only encountered MCAS issues two times before grounding. In other words, that no foreign aircrew ever successfully recovered from an MCAS situation before the grounding?
strickerje 1
Vast majority? The New York Times compiled this chart at the time of the grounding: By "foreign airlines", the OP is clearly referring to those in developing countries with inadequate flight training, not "foreign airlines" like Air Canada and Ryanair. So, a better question would be why did two airlines with 10 aircraft or fewer at the time each experience a crash, while those with 20+ and much higher utilization did not?
Ron Streetenberger 0
I do not think that you know what you are talking about.
Ron Streetenberger 5
You are absolutely dead on. If she felt bullied she gave up her power that she should have possessed by nature of her title "examiner". I also agree that the Max should never had been grounded.
Jim Allen 3
I agree.. if your job causes you to do something you don’t feel is safe and your management doesn’t listen- you should walk. But that’s easy for me to say not being in that persons shoes.
bentwing60 0
Etienne Daniels 4
A lot of comments here but, how many (ex)Boeing people are now in jail waiting for their trial for their crimes (or mistakes) committed?
Randy Brown 4
Zero as of today’s acquittal.
Jim Allen 4
That figures… because then the FAA is implicated. Per the rules, they were probably within the law.
wiregold 1
Boeing had their lawyers hire the prosecutor as a partner, so there are no Boeing criminals facing the courts. The Chicago method of business as usual, bribes backed by threats.
EMK69 4
I recently had an ASO tell me "we are the FAA and we make the rules."

DOES NOT MATTER HE WAS ACQUITTED in less than 2 hours by the Jury. Best news I have heard this morning.
Jim Allen 4
That’s because you’re a little person. If you owe the bank $10k and can’t pay, you have a problem. If you owe the bank $10m and can’t pay, they have a problem.
darjr26 4
“Downfall: The Case Against Boeing” is on Netflix , its worth watching.
alex hidveghy 1
Yes, mind boggling! And highly recommended. Look up high, not low hanging* fruit to see where the responsibility is…..
Jim Allen 1
I should check that out. I only read the book "Flying Blind". Thanks.
alex hidveghy 1
It’s good and answers a lot of questions…….
Duane Mader 2
My understanding in the article linked below is that he was subsequently found not guilty.
alex hidveghy 1
Yes, of ALL charges! I guess using a scapegoat isn’t the best way of winning your case……
bentwing60 2
Back in my mid 80's to early 90's freight dog days', (LearJet, DA20) the old school POI's showed up at the airshows with an FAA cap on their heads and an EAA pin on their shirts, and they damn sure KNEW the Regs! And rode around with us on our golf carts. And we were damn sure equal because they were on our golf carts and We damn sure KNEW the Regs.

As time went on, they began to rotate the old school real POI's out or they retired them because they were ushering in the new school of "The kinder gentler FAA", their term not mine! What it said to me was the new regime no longer trusted their employee. What it meant to me was "The kinder gentler FAA" was BS.

What came next was new POI's with scant knowledge of the Regs. but an apparent lust for checking a box or busting some chops with a wet badge. Industry washouts with the hammer. Broad brush but my experience. Ours had damaged (crashed) two aircraft and a helicopter in training with no consequence and regularly showed up at the hangar empty handed on beer night and read the riot act in formal settings.

The Point, we are living and operating in a different world and while we have been for quite some time, they no longer care that it is so absurdly obvious.

Integrity, doin' the right thing when no one else will know! Me
Juan Jimenez 4
Another gen-z snowflake.
Jim Allen 1
May you never be put in the same situation.
Rex Bentley 3
Can't take the heat get out of the kitchen.
Mark Kortum -2
Or in her case, go back to the kitchen. Bracing myself for the onslaught!
Dr Stephen Vadas 3
Poor little FAA girl was bullied. She was the FAA, for goodness sake! She needs to be in charge of the FAA cafeteria.
Michal Mudd 1
It’s kind of telling how you criticize this official by zeroing in on her being a “poor little girl” but you never zeroed in on the Boeing CEO or other executives being entitled, incompetent little boys.
Males can be bullied too.
Jim Allen 4
That's what I don't get about this entire conversation. They're giving her shit simply because she's a woman. Like you don't think a man would testify that he had pressure from management. May I present to you the engineer from Thiokol who called out management and NASA on the call to launch the shuttle below 32 degrees. The only thing that protected this guys job was a congressman that told Thiokol straight out that if this man loses his job, you lose your contract. The O-ring specialist that made the recommendation originally was shunned by his Mormon community and wound up committing suicide. As it was, the engineer was a pariah in the company community. That's a lot of pressure on someone.
strickerje 1
It has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with an FAA agent claiming to have been "bullied" when they're the ones with all the leverage. If Boeing really was trying to railroad her, she could have escalated to the higher-ups, but the fact that this claim is only coming out now suggests it's just attempts at deflection.
Terry Briggs 2
Sounds like this gal was being dominated, but when it's all said and done the fact remains that Boeing (including Forkner) didn't really give two hoots about the safety of the 737Max. They saw Airbus was about to eat their lunch and came up with questionable and just plain bad engineering to try to cobble together something that would be competitive. It didn't work with their client base and there are a bunch of people dead who didn't need to be. And as a respectable company, do you really want your chief tech pilot to be a table-pounder?
George Wilhelmsen 5
No, that wasn't it. Again, this failure is the same as a TRIM runaway. All the foreign aircrews had to do was reach down to the right side of the throttle pedestal, and TURN IT OFF.

They didn't. They fought it and lost (as almost EVERY crew would lose if they are trying to fight trim runaway).

It's the TRAINING. Not the plane.
Jim Allen 3
And MCAS was excluded from the Training... or else they would have owed Southwest $1m/day for any training that required a SIM. What are you not seeing? Any company that charges extra for software that compares the data from the AOA sensors on both sides of the plane is not acting in the name of "safety". It's acting in profit maximization.
Highflyer1950 4
A lot of valid points and conclusions. Ab initio training is one thing, however, when you get to the business end of an airliner any driver worth their salt doesn't just sit there and say train me? They read the flight manual, QRH, Non-Normal procedures, MMEL etc. Then the questions come fast & furious…..why the smaller trim wheels, Engines sit way out in front so what does that do to the aerodynamics:under different thrust settings?, are the AOA’s warning lights, displays or operation wired together or separate, it says here in the MEL, AOA light (if installed), AOA disagree annunciator on the flight display (if installed)? This sucker is stretched almost to the limit, what about rotation rates, degrees….tail strike vulnerability. If you want to become complacent..keep doing what you have been doing. Want to be a professional, know your frickin’ airplane inside and out. Well I beat this to death again, sorry/not sorry.
alex hidveghy 2
If you watch Downfall, you’ll see that the acronym was in the POH but that’s as far as it went! No description, no diagrams, nadda. Pilots who noted that started asking questions. What is this? Do I need to know more?
The answers were not exactly forthcoming nor soothing.
Highflyer1950 2
Yes, I actually watched it, bit of Hollywood fact embellishing however. Interesting that here, when a rather large local domestic/international carrier shopped the Max for it’s fleet, Boeing demo sales, the carriers own check pilots, the chief pilot, maintenance mgrs etc., all went through the options list just like every other new airframe/derivative being built and sold either by Airbus, Boeing or Embraer S.A. They decided on what options gave their crews the best information available and ordered the aircraft suitably equipped. The same cannot be said for leasing companies who cheap out on options to maximize profits or airlines that sign leases on these aircraft then staff them with comparatively low experience pilots. Pilots who might be sitting in their first jet with little to offer the newly upgraded Captain…..possibly.
alex hidveghy 2
Possibly being the key word here…..most of those pilots interviewed (if not all) were American and US trained, not foreign or ab intio.
The others are dead and clearly, cannot be interviewed. ….always more to the story than what meets the eye.
alex hidveghy 1
Possibly being the key word, right?

And the pilots in that documentary were all American and US-trained, experienced pilots. ……the others are dead. So were not interviewed.
Mark Kortum 1
You do not want a pushy chief tech and you don't want a whiny obfuscating FAA inspector either. It took two to tango here. It always does.
Poulterer 1
Sounds like a personal problem.
mmc7090 -3
Boo hoo defending her spinless incompetence. Like America's matress queen unvetted VP. Just make it coherent cogent argument and get off your worthless matriarchy.


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