Mitsubishi and Bombardier trade legal barbs over recruitment and trade secrets

Point/Counterpoint: On October 21, Bombardier filed suit against Mitsubishi Aircraft Company (Mitac) and its Seattle testing partner AeroTec, alleging the company had illegally acquired its proprietary trade secrets as the Japanese company actively recruited industry veterans in Montreal and elsewhere with expertise in aircraft design, testing and certification.

The suit, filed in U.S. Western District Court, sought “a preliminary injunction to prevent Mitsubishi Aircraft and AeroTEC from using the information it says was taken. The lawsuit says the employees sent key documents to their personal email accounts prior to leaving Bombardier and joining the Mitsubishi project,” according to Reuters.

The Mitsubishi staff-up to fix its MRJ90 regional jet program and steer it back toward certification came as Bombardier and Boeing shed staff of their own with layoffs and retirements following their own protracted and expensive development programs.

In response, Mitsubishi filed a motion on December 20 to dismiss the suit and issued an expansive defense of its hiring practices. Mitac’s Director of Strategic Communications, Jeff Dronen, told The Air Current that the company believed Bombardier’s suit was aimed to “disrupt development” of the competing MRJ90 and that the documents weren’t proprietary and didn’t apply to its certification effort given the differences in Japanese regulatory structure.

Separately, Mitac and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB), the nation’s aviation regulator, announced that it had awarded type inspection authorization to the MRJ90. It’s a significant milestone for the long-delayed program. TIA represents that Mitsubishi has a stable design and configuration it believes conforms for full certification evaluations of the MRJ90 expected to begin in early 2019 from its Moses Lake, Wash. flight test center. Further, the award is a signal of Japan’s own regulatory and bureaucratic readiness to certify the first homegrown airliner in the country’s history since the turboprop YS-11 in the 1960s. – J.O.

Subscribers to The Air Current can login and read the complete complaints and motions from Bombardier and Mitsubishi:

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