Lycoming Battles Fraud Verdict...

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Appeal Of Crankshaft Decision In Works

It's a long way from Textron headquarters in Williamsport, Pa., to Anderson, Texas, both literally and figuratively, but corporate honchos from the company that brings you Cessna and Lycoming products are getting to know the place pretty well. For it's in that unlikely little city north of Houston that the fortunes of an aviation icon and industry dynasty could turn. As AVweb told you last month, a jury in Anderson laid the full blame for faulty crankshafts in high-powered Lycoming engines on Lycoming. The jury also found that Lycoming engaged in fraud when it negotiated a new supply contract with Intestate Southwest, the Navasota, Texas, contractor Lycoming had hired to forge crankshaft billets, without informing the company of crankshaft failures it knew about. Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, will carry a story in its April edition that delves deeply into the technical and legal details of the case and what it could mean for individual owners and the industry as a whole. In February, the jury awarded Interstate a total of $96 million in actual and punitive damages, after Interstate's lawyers presented evidence they said proved that it was the Lycoming-ordered addition of vanadium to the steel mix in the crank forgings that was to blame for the failures, not overheating of the billets by Interstate. The jury also accepted Interstate's premise that the crankshafts are under-designed and don't have the structural margins that Lycoming intended for them to have in the higher horsepower engines.