By Andrea Lucia

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The former chief technical pilot for Boeing entered an innocent plea Friday in federal court in Fort Worth to a charge he tried to deceive the FAA during the agency’s evaluation of the 737 Max aircraft.

Mark Forkner made his first appearance Friday afternoon after federal officials announced his indictment late Thursday.

READ MORE: Most Popular Dog And Cat Names Of 2021: Is Your Pet's Name On The List?

“This tragedy deserves a search for the truth – not a search for a scapegoat,” Forkner’s attorneys said in a statement.  “If the government takes this case to trial, the truth will show that Mark did not cause this tragedy; he did not lie, and he should not be charged.”

The federal grand jury for the Northern District of Texas returned the indictment against the Keller resident yesterday.

Mark Forkner leaves federal court in Fort Worth. (Credit: CBSDFW)

The indictment alleges Forkner worked to defraud “Boeing’s U.S. based airline customers to obtain tens of millions of dollars for Boeing.”

Court documents indicate Forkner deceived the FAA during the agency’s evaluation and certification of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.

The indictment alleges Forkner “provided the agency with materially false, inaccurate, and incomplete information about a new part of the flight controls for the Boeing 737 MAX.”

READ MORE: McKinney, Texas Man Addison Mays Sentenced To 40 Years For Continuous Sexual Abuse Of A Child

“Forkner allegedly abused his position of trust by intentionally withholding critical information … during the FAA evaluation and certification of the 737 MAX and from Boeing’s U.S. based airline customers,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “In doing so, he deprived airlines and pilots from knowing crucial information about an important part of the airplane’s flight controls.”

Forkner left Boeing to work for Southwest Airlines.  The Dallas-based carrier told CBSDFW late Thursday Forkner took a voluntary separation package in 2020.

Acting U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham for the Northern District accused Forkner of withholding critical information from regulators.

“His callous choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency’s ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in the lurch, lacking information about certain 737 Max flight controls,” Meacham said.

Boeing began developing and marketing the 7373 Max in June 2011.

Court documents say Forkner discovered an important change to the plane’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) but never shared that information with the FAA.

As a result, pilots who trained on the 737 Max never had the information they needed, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

MORE NEWS: Dallas DART To Reserve Seat At Front Of Every Bus This Week To Honor Rosa Parks