Jury's Crankshaft Verdict Hits Lycoming Hard...

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Blame ... And Nearly $100M In Damages

In a stunning verdict (the effects of which could ripple through the aviation world for years to come) a Texas jury has found Textron Lycoming entirely to blame for crankshaft failures in high-horsepower engines between 2000 and 2002. What's more, the Grimes County jurors found that Lycoming's investigation of the crankshaft failures was fraudulent and incorrectly put the blame on the manufacturer of the crankshaft forgings, Interstate Southwest, of Navasota, Texas. In fact, the FAA also accepted Lycoming's version that Interstate had improperly heat-treated the forgings, which weakened the steel and led to the failures. What the jury found was that the crankshafts were under-designed for high-horsepower engines, and that Lycoming changed the recipe for the steel alloy used in the cranks by adding vanadium (to make the metal easier and less expensive to work with) and that that weakened them. According to court documents obtained by AVweb, the jury found that the "sole cause" of the crankshaft failures was Lycoming's design. "The jurors found the combination of poor design and vanadium pushed these crankshafts beyond their limits," said Interstate attorney Hal Walker. The jury awarded Interstate $9.7 million in actual damages and $86.4 million in punitive damages. Interstate launched the suit in April of 2003. A month later, Lycoming answered with a suit filed in Pennsylvania claiming $173 million against Interstate. According to Interstate's lawyers, the Texas verdict effectively stops Lycoming from pursuing the Pennsylvania suit. "This is a total victory for our side," said Marty Rose, another Interstate lawyer.