Boeing pays out £36m for fault in Chinooks

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The Independent US

The Boeing aerospace group has agreed to pay up to £36m to the US government to settle legal claims that it placed defective gears in Chinook helicopters sold to the US army.

The Boeing aerospace group has agreed to pay up to £36m to the US government to settle legal claims that it placed defective gears in Chinook helicopters sold to the US army.

The Justice Department alleged that the gears failed in at least three flights in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including one during the Gulf War. It said one of the gears manufactured by Litton Precision Gear - bought by Boeing from Litton Industries in 1994 - failed in flight in Honduras in 1988, causing the helicopter to crash, killing five servicemen.

Two gears made by SPECO Corp of Springfield, Ohio, failed in flight, it alleged. One crash, in 1991 in Saudi Arabia, injured two. The third incident involved a training flight in 1993 at Fort Meade, Maryland.

The department said the army's Chinook fleet had been partly grounded since January this year because of other defects found in SPECO transmission gears, which were being replaced.

The settlement came as the British Government remains under pressure to reopen the inquiry into the Mull of Kintyre Chinook crash, which killed 29 senior intelligence officers in 1994. A leaked report by aviation experts has claimed the RAF conclusion - that pilot error was to blame - could not be sustained, and mechanical failure could have been the cause.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said last night that defective gears had been ruled out as a cause. He said all gearboxes would have been checked in the light of problems in US Chinooks and there were no implications for the UK fleet.

In the agreement, Boeing denied all the allegations and said it entered into the settlement to resolve the litigation.

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