Let's All Hope That Rolls Royce's Airplane Engines Aren't Defective

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Since the odds are good you don't drive a Rolls Royce, you may not be overly concerned about reports that the company hid defects in its manufactured engines for years. You might be once you hear some of their other customers: airlines and the Defense Department.

Two former employees of the company's Indianapolis manufacturing facility claim that Rolls "cut corners" on quality control and used defective parts in the manufacture of its engines beginning a decade ago, as reported by the Telegraph. One employee, Thomas McArtor served as a senior quality control officer. He argues that he was fired by the company after turning over a log of quality failures to the FAA. The other man, Keith Ramsay, served in a similar position. The Telegraph writes:

The pair claim that Rolls routinely concealed thousands of defects in engines it sold to clients including the US Department of Defense, collating them in a “secret set of books”.

The duo are now challenging a court order that prevents them releasing information they claim reveals what Rolls allegedy concealed.

The BBC reports that the two "also alleged that the firm "routinely used defective parts designated as 'scrap only.'"

Their claims may have gotten a boost with the announcement last month that a regulatory body in Australia found Rolls culpable for a faulty component in an engine on a Qantas Airbus 380 that exploded three years ago. Reuters reports:

The four-engined A380 was flying from Singapore to Sydney with 433 passengers and 26 crew on board when one of its engines exploded, spraying the plane with shrapnel and dropping chunks of debris on Indonesia's Batam island.

A large section of turbine disc crashed into a house, but there were no injuries to anyone either on the plane or on the ground.

Rolls Royce, understandably, disagrees with the claims. A spokesman told Reuters that the lawsuit "is entirely without merit," pointing out that a judge had dismissed two of the pair's claims.

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The existing lawsuit and quality concerns don't seem to be affecting the company's bottom line much. In May, the company got a $35 million contract with the Navy to repair its jet engines. It signed an $83 million deal to provide the Air Force and Marines with engines. Singapore Airlines signed a $4 billion deal for its Dreamliners. That's all since February.

Let's hope, then, that the whistleblowers' lawsuit is indeed without merit. Or that the company replaced the men it fired with equally scrupulous ones.

Photo: A Rolls Royce engine dwarfs a man at an air show in France. (AP)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.