LOS ANGELES Pratt &
Whitney Co. is investigating titanium used in its aircraft
engines that was supplied by Western Titanium Inc., reviving
memories of an earlier criminal case against the San Diego
The East Hartford, Conn.-based
aircraft engine builder has determined that some material
originating from Western Titanium "may not meet all of the raw
material specification requirements (that) has been delivered
in P&W products," it told AMM.
A three-year criminal case
against Western Titanium and four current or former executives
ended in 2011 when the company pleaded guilty to one of 19
counts of felony mail fraud involving one shipment of
"nonconforming" titanium and paid a fine of about $50,000 (
amm.com, Jan. 14, 2011). The titanium was used on
military aircraft, as well as spacecraft built by the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration.
"Other than material described
in the plea agreement, we did not sell material that did not
meet spec to Pratt & Whitney suppliers or to Pratt &
Whitney," Western Titanium attorney Nancy Luque said Feb.
Pratt & Whitney, a
subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., is conducting
"appropriate quality and engineering reviews" but believes that
any parts that might not meet all of its requirements still
"meet the necessary performance requirements" of its
"To date, we have not uncovered
any flight safety risk associated with those parts," Pratt
& Whitney said.
The material in question has
been used in its PW4000, PW2000/F117, F100, F119 and F135
engines, said Pratt & Whitney, which didnt give the
number of engines involved.
A Pratt & Whitney spokesman
declined to comment further or say when the titanium under
investigation was actually supplied to the company.
Among the governments
allegations against Western Titanium in 2007 were that it
supplied customers with titanium that was supposed to be rolled
plate but for which the distributor "knowingly" substituted
forged slab or billet that didnt meet aerospace and
The distributor claimed the
governments charges were based on a "nonsensical"
definition of billets supplied by a government witness that
wasnt accepted by the industry.
Moreover, a number of industry
sources also said the charges against Western Titanium
reflected practices that, in large part, were common in the
industry at the time.