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Military Aircraft Inadequately Built, Tested, Lawsuit Charges

The lawsuit claims a military contractor used the wrong parts and filed false inspection reports in building components for the C-17 and the Black Hawk.
Image: Boeing C-17 Globemasters
Boeing C-17 Globemasters from the 535th Airlift Squadron, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, participating in an airdrop training mission in 2006. TSGT SHANE A. CUOMO / U.S. Air Force via AP file

A military contractor swapped in parts meant for other aircraft, failed to properly inspect parts and filed false inspection reports in construction of two of the U.S.'s workhorse aircraft, a former inspector alleges in a federal lawsuit.

The man, Jerry T. Pollinger of Arlington, Texas, was fired in April 2012 from the Vought Aircraft Division of Triumph Aerostructures of Grand Prairie, near Dallas, after he complained about widespread irregularities in the company's work on the Air Force's C-17 transport plane and the Army's UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, according to a wrongful termination suit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Dallas (PDF).

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Pollinger alleges that from 2007 until he was fired in 2012, workers at the company knowingly installed defective parts, improperly reused parts that had been removed from other assemblies, bent parts to make them fit in assemblies they weren't made for, failed to perform proper electrical tests and filed false inspection reports.

A fired inspector alleges that the contractor failed to test electrical assemblies, used the wrong parts, filed false inspections and overcharged the government in its work on the Air Force's C-17 Globemaster III transport plane.PIERRE VERDY / AFP/Getty Images file

Triumph-Vought also defrauded the U.S. government by filing false claims for payment through Boeing, Pollinger alleges, and encouraged employees not to raise issues of compliance with contractual requirements.

Pollinger, who claims he never got a reply when he tried to report the alleged misconduct to Triumph-Vought's ethics hotline, wants a federal jury to give him his job back, along with back pay, interest, court costs and attorney's fees.

Triumph-Vought makes cabin structures for the UH-60 Black Hawk and a variety of components, including tail sections and rudders, for the C-17 Globemaster III, which is scheduled to be phased out of service beginning next year.

The company said it hadn't yet been served with the suit but was familiar with its claims and would seek its dismissal.

"All of Mr. Pollinger's allegations have been thoroughly investigated and could not be substantiated," it told NBC News by email Thursday.

The suit makes no claims of misconduct by Boeing Co., which makes the C-17, or Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., which makes the Black Hawk. Neither company is a party to the action.

Both craft, which are mainstays of the U.S. military fleet and have been sold to dozens of other countries, are considered highly reliable.