PHILADELPHIA, 8 June 2005. A military supplier and two of the company's workers were charged Tuesday with falsely certifying material for the V-22 Osprey aircraft.
Federal prosecutors, however, said the material wasn't to blame for two deadly crashes involving the helicopter-airplane hybrid.
Anco-Tech Inc., located in Dearborn Heights, Mich., manufactured titanium tubing for use in the tilt-rotor aircraft. The company certified that the tubing met the military's standards, even though it was never tested or incompletely tested, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
"Tests were skipped, protocols were ignored, inspection procedures were not followed, documentation was either incomplete or falsified," U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan said. "All of this was not only tolerated but sanctioned and condoned by the company."
The Osprey program has been threatened since 23 Marines died in a pair of crashes during testing in 2000.
A December 2000 crash in North Carolina, which killed four Marines, was caused by a titanium hydraulic line that ruptured. Anco-Tech's titanium tubing was used in the hydraulic system in the aircraft that crashed, but an independent expert hired by the Justice Department didn't find any flaws or defects in the tubing that would have caused the rupture, prosecutors said. The rupture was most likely due to external forces unrelated to the condition of the tubing, prosecutors said.
An August 2000 crash in Arizona that killed 19 Marines was blamed on pilot error.
The Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft can land and take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. Commanders say the Osprey can haul more troops and equipment farther than existing helicopters. It was designed to replace the aging helicopters in the Marine Corps fleet.
A joint venture of Boeing Co. and Textron Inc.'s Bell Helicopter unit builds the aircraft in Texas and Pennsylvania.
The Marine Corps grounded the Osprey fleet in March 2003 to remove Anco-Tech tubing from any critical parts of the hydraulic systems, at a cost of more than $4 million, prosecutors said.
The indictment names workers Andrew Maliszewski, 53, and his brother Alan, 41. They were taken into custody in Michigan Tuesday for an initial appearance, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernadette McKeon said.
Calls to the Maliszewskis' homes went unanswered Tuesday, and it was not immediately clear if they had attorneys. They were expected to be transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where the case was filed.
Andrew Maliszewski, a former quality manager and vice president who left the company in October 2000, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $750,000 fine if convicted. Alan Maliszewski, a sales manager and later quality manager, faces a maximum 200 years in prison and a $7.25 million fine, prosecutors said.
Anco-Tech went out of business in 2002, prosecutors said. McKeon declined to name the owner of the plant, who was not charged.