March 4, 2013 8:24 pm

Pratt & Whitney admits unit falsified test data

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A division of Pratt & Whitney, the aircraft engine maker, falsified test data for aircraft engine parts over 15 years, the company admitted, in the second case of wrongdoing in the past year to emerge at a subsidiary of United Technologies.

Pratt & Whitney said an employee at its Carmel Forge facility in Israel submitted an anonymous allegation in June 2011 that test data for parts had been falsified. An investigation showed the data had been “altered” to minimise the risk of further testing, the company said.

Revelation of the problems at Carmel Forge follows the guilty plea last June by Pratt & Whitney Canada and Hamilton Sundstrand, a US-based sister company, to illegally supplying China with attack helicopter technology. Both Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Sunstrand are subsidiaries of United Technologies, the diversified industrial group.

Pratt & Whitney said it had carried out “thorough internal audits” using the original, unaltered test data to confirm the quality of the parts in question. “There have been no product recalls, service bulletins, or airworthiness directives, and there are no flight safety risks.”

Carmel Forge makes parts for turbines for both aeroengines and some on-land applications. It supplies other aircraft engine suppliers, including General Electric and Honeywell, as well as its parent company.

The Carmel Forge factory had notified its customers of the problems, while Pratt & Whitney had notified the Federal Aviation Administration and Defence Contract Management Agency, Pratt & Whitney said.

Carmel Forge had made “personnel changes”, implemented robust software controls, purchased new test equipment and taken other steps to prevent any adjustments to original test data in future.

“Carmel Forge remains confident in the quality, integrity and safety of its products,” Pratt & Whitney said.

The falsification came to light in a report in the Wall Street Journal.

General Electric did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Honeywell said it was working with its suppliers to review all materials.

In June last year, United Technologies agreed to a fine of $75m over the illegal exports to China. The exports came about after employees at Pratt & Whitney Canada supplied sensitive engines and control technology to a Chinese helicopter programme that they had described internally as a commercial transport helicopter. The project in fact aimed to build China’s first attack helicopter.

Pratt & Whitney said the Carmel Forge falsification was a “single instance” of wrongdoing when the “vast, overwhelming majority” of Pratt & Whitney’s 35,000 worldwide employees did the right thing at all times.

“It’s inexcusable, and it’s unacceptable,” it said. “However, it is not indicative of the culture at Pratt & Whitney.”

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