Bell Helicopter Co. yesterday sued nine companies and two individuals for $35 million in damages for allegedly making and selling bogus helicopters but also for some civilian helicopters in the United States.
A major foreign buyer of the parts was Westland Helicopters, Ltd, a British company.
In a statement announcing it had filed suit, Bell said yesterday that it has made an investigation, which "has revealed that many of the parts sold by the defendants to Westland were bogus parts."
"Some of the parts involved are identified as critical flight components, sucha s the tail rotor drive shaft and transmission parts," the company continued.
It added that "an investigation by Bell has revealed that bogus parts have been involved in accidents of the Model 47 series," one kind of Bell helicopter, "in the United States." The company said it would not elaborate on this charge, "due to matters of litigation."
The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Los Angeles. The named defendants, accordings to Bell's announcement, are Aviation Sales, Inc., of New York; two of its affiliates, Aviation Helicopter Sales, Ltd., of Britain and Hyfore Manufacturing Corp. of California; six other companies that allegedly had ancillary roles in the conspiracy; Aviation Sales board chairman Jack Dadourian and a California manufacturers' agent anmed H. Walker Sander-Cederlof.
Some of the ancillary companies were allegedly involved in certifying the suspect parts as meeting Bell Standards for such things as metal strength and heat resistance.
But Bell said in yesterday's statement that the parts were made "without proper technical data, the necessary processing specifications and quality control procedures."
Source have said bogus helicopter parts have also been sold in recent years under the name of the Sikorsky Aircraft division of United Technologies Corp.
The parts are alleged to have gone into the military fleets of at least nine and possibly 11 countries, includeing Britain and West Germany.
In addition to Bell's investigation, the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles and Sikorsky have also been conducting investigations into allegations that Aviation Sales shipped bogus helicopter parts to Westland in England.
Law enforcement sources involved in the investigation said that two FBI agents were sent last week to England on the bogus parts investigation and that the allegations were being actively investigated in Los Angeles and on the East Coast. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in Los Angeles said that the agency's investigation into the allegations is not complete.