It’s not often that a manufacturer is sued for allegedly defective products it hasn’t built in almost 60 years but that’s where Northrop Grumman finds itself. Chalk’s Ocean Airways and its insurer AIG is suing the company over the crash of one of Chalk’s Grumman Mallards in December of 2005, claiming the 58-year-old aircraft wasn’t properly made. “There was a manufacturing problem with the rivets,” Chalk’s attorney John Eversole told the Miami Herald. “Our allegations are that there was a weak area where the wings are attached to the fuselage, an area that could lead to weakness if under stress. This area is enclosed and cannot be inspected. The metal is built around the area where this wing sheared off…” The right wing on Chalk’s Mallard came off in flight and the resulting crash killed all 20 aboard. The Herald said Northrop Grumman declined comment on the suit.
Chalk’s never recovered from the accident and its operating certificate was pulled in November of 2007. AIG paid out $50 million in claims. The NTSB blamed faulty maintenance and Chalk’s failure to spot the fatigue cracks that caused the accident but Eversole said there was nothing anyone could have done to spot the problem. “We think the NTSB was way too quick to blame Chalk’s for maintenance when there is no maintenance that can be done with this area,” he said. “You can’t inspect it, you can’t perform maintenance on it. There is nothing you can do short of rebuilding the airplane.”