Schweizer Family Sues Sikorsky

 - November 23, 2010, 11:26 AM

Last week Sikorsky sought to quash a federal lawsuit brought by the Schweizer family that charges the Stratford, Conn.-based company with reneging on the terms of its 2004 purchase of Schweizer Aircraft, builder of light helicopters, surveillance aircraft and unmanned drones. Schweizer acquired the production rights to the Hughes 300-series helicopters from McDonnell Douglas in 1986. The lawsuit claims that Sikorsky parent United Technologies paid $12 million for Elmira, N.Y.-based Schweizer with promises of up to $10 to $14 million more once certain program progress goals related to the RU-3B fixed-wing surveillance aircraft were met and two helicopter crash lawsuits were settled. The Schweizers maintain that the progress goals were not met because Sikorsky fired them, in violation of the acquisition agreement, and reassigned Schweizer’s best engineers to work on Sikorsky’s experimental X2 compound helicopter. They also claim that Sikorsky settled those two crash lawsuits for $8.5 million, despite evidence that absolved Schweizer from liability. Last summer Sikorsky leveled the Elmira manufacturing building and transferred Schweizer helicopter production to its Coatesville, Pa. plant. Sikorsky declined to comment on the lawsuit’s specifics.