NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – Pratt & Whitney and a subcontractor have agreed to pay the United States $52 million to resolve allegations that they knowingly sold defective turbine blade replacements for jet engines used in military aircraft, the Justice Department announced Friday.

The engines power twin-engine F-15 and single-engine F-16 fighter aircraft used primarily by the U.S. Air Force.

The government alleged that between 1994 and 2003, replacement turbine blades designed by Pratt & Whitney and cast by its subcontractor, PCC Airfoils, failed to meet a critical design dimension.

Officials said the defect caused the crash of an F-16 fighter aircraft in Arizona on June 10, 2003. The pilot ejected safely.

“This settlement demonstrates the government’s commitment to maintaining the high quality and safety standards required of contractors and subcontractors selling critical aircraft parts to the Department of Defense,” said Gregory G. Katsas, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

Pratt said it believes the allegations were unfounded, but agreed to settle because the Air Force is a highly valued customer and the company did not believe going to trial was in either side’s best interest. Pratt & Whitney says the company and its supplier took immediate and voluntary actions to ensure the safety of flight and customer readiness, including replacing almost 100,000 turbine blades and providing inspection training and specialized inspection tools to customers.

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