Textron Lycoming has announced that the company will appeal the recent verdict in a Texas court which orders the company to pay $9.7 million in actual damages and $86.3 million in punitive damages to Interstate Southwest Ltd. of Navasota, Texas.
The verdict came at the end of a seven week court case which centred on a number of accidents that occurred when crankshafts broke in flight. Between 2000 and 2002, there were 24 failures and 12 deaths in aircraft powered by Lycoming engines. Texas based Interstate Southwest supplied Lycoming with the crankshaft forgings for those engines.
Lycoming launched an investigation. Its conclusion was that Interstate had overheated the forgings, weakening the steel.
But Interstate found a different cause. Their experts discovered that Lycoming’s design for the crankshafts, which dates back to smaller, lower horsepower engines built 40 years ago, was inadequate for the larger, higher horsepower engines that failed.
They also found that by adding Vanadium to the steel, something Lycoming decided to do just before the failures started; the company further limited the amount of stress the crankshafts could withstand.