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Bombardier alleges former staffers took trade secrets to MRJ

Bombardier has alleged that several former employees stole sensitive CSeries certification documents prior to taking new jobs working on the Mitsubishi Aircraft MRJ programme.

The Montreal manufacturer lays out the allegations in its 19 October lawsuit against those former employees and Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation America and Seattle-based AeroTEC, which assists with MRJ flight testing.

The suit alleges those companies and their staff recruited new employees from Bombardier, "inducing" them to steal Bombardier trade secrets on their way out the door.

Bombardier alleges the actions violate US federal and Washington state trade secret laws, though Mitsubishi Aircraft calls the allegations "unfounded."

The former Bombardier employees allegedly stole CSeries flight test profiles and certification reports related to airspeed, static pressure and air temperature systems, Bombardier's suit says.

The CSeries was rebranded as the A220 earlier this year after Airbus acquired the programme's majority ownership.

"The information contained in these documents would be invaluable to anyone involved in an effort to certify aircraft for entry into service," says the suit, filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. Former Bombardier staff also stole "highly sensitive" presentations related to Global 7000 and 8000 business jet certification, including "preliminary design review requirements" and slat and flap control schematics, says the suit.

The former employees allegedly stole the secrets by emailing documents from their Bombardier email accounts to personal accounts in the days and hours before leaving their jobs, Bombardier says.

The suit names several former staffers who it says were involved. Those include Bombardier's former senior engineering specialist for flight controls Laurus Basson, former aircraft performance engineer Cindy Dorneval, former aerospace engineer Keith Ayre, former aircraft engineering specialist Marc-Antoine Delarche and former director of CSeries flight test teams Michel Korwin-Szymanowski.

Those former staffers took jobs at AeroTEC, with the exception of Ayre, who took a job at Mitsubishi Aircraft, according to the suit and LinkedIn profiles.

The alleged thefts occurred in 2016 and 2017.

"We have strong evidence to support that Bombardier trade secrets were misappropriated and are being used for the certification of the MRJ regional jet," Bombardier tells FlightGlobal. "Bombardier does not take these actions regarding its trade secrets lightly and is taking all the necessary steps to protect its intellectual property."

The suit requests Mitsubishi Aircraft, AeroTEC and staff be prohibited from continuing to use proprietary information or from recruiting Bombardier staff in order to obtain secrets.

Bombardier seeks punitive damages and disgorgement of wrongful profits, but does not specify dollar amounts.

"Our immediate priority is to put an end to the misappropriation of our trade secrets," Bombardier tells Flightglobal.

Mitsubishi Aircraft contests the allegations.

“We believe the allegations to be unfounded and find no merit in their assertions,” the company tells FlightGlobal. “We look forward to the opportunity to prove this during the legal proceedings.”

AeroTEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mitsubishi Aircraft for years has been working toward MRJ certification, but has suffered several delays and engineering setbacks. In 2016, the company begin flight testing at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington.

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