Rolls-Royce to fight claims it ‘cut corners’

5 July 2013
By Edd Gent
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A Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine on an Airbus A380, like the one that disintegrated on a Quantus flight in 2010

A Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine on an Airbus A380, like the one that disintegrated on a Quantus flight in 2010

Rolls-Royce will fight claims made by former staff in a US lawsuit that it "cut corners" on quality standards and "lied to" customers.

The lawsuit, filed by two former quality control officers at its US aerospace arm, alleges that the firm "routinely used defective parts designated as 'scrap only'" and concealed internal records of faults in thousands of engines it sold to clients, including the US Department of Defense, according to reports in the Financial Times and the Daily Telegraph.

The company denied the claims today and vowed to "defend itself vigorously", adding that two of the four claims had already been thrown out.

A spokeswoman said: "Any and all facts of the case will be presented in court, where we are confident it will be found the lawsuit is without merit."

The lawsuit was filed in the district court for the Southern District of Indiana and is the latest in a long-running dispute brought by Thomas McArtor, a senior quality control officer from 2003 to 2006 at Rolls-Royce's Indianapolis plant. He was joined in 2011 by a second former employee, Keith Ramsey.

Rolls-Royce's quality standards are in the spotlight following its recent admission that it "clearly fell short" of the highest standards following the dramatic disintegration of one of its engines on board the world's largest passenger plane.

A final report by Australian investigators into the November 2010 incident aboard a Qantas Airbus A380 superjumbo with 440 passengers aboard said the engine explosion was caused by a poorly-built oil pipe that failed to conform to design specifications.

The pilots managed to land the plane safely and no one was hurt, but the incident led to the temporary grounding of 20 superjumbos with Trent 900 engines.

The claim alleges that Rolls-Royce "cut corners on quality control requirements" and "lied to" customers about quality control procedures.

Ramsey alleges he was dismissed for "refusing to co-operate" in Rolls-Royce Corp's "knowing deviations from its quality-control plan" and McArtor claims he was dismissed after disclosing a 2003/06 major quality failure log to the US Federal Aviation Authority.

The pair claim the British company collated thousands of alleged defects in a "secret set of books" and the two are challenging a court order which prevents them releasing information that they argue reveals details of what the company concealed.

Rolls-Royce said that a US district judge, William T Lawrence, had already thrown out two of the four claims before entering the "discovery" phase of the litigation.

It said: "Notably, Judge Lawrence did not find that Rolls-Royce engaged in any wrongdoing, failed to follow its quality system, concealed anything from the US government or even that a jury is entitled to hear the allegations.

"Rolls-Royce categorically rejects the other claims and will defend itself vigorously."

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