Scotia Technology sues seacoast company over A-10 aircraft components

LACONIA — A local aerospace company has filed a lawsuit against a seacoast company for failing to properly clean and perform a special kind of treatment of stainless steel tubing that was subsequently sold to the  Boeing Company which used them in the wings of the A-10 Aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force.

According to pleadings obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court, Scotia Technology, a division of Lakes Region Tubular Products Inc., said it lost more that $2.5 million fixing the deficiencies.

Scotia was notified by Boeing on Feb. 12, 2012, that the stainless steel tubing cleaned by Areodynamics Inc. of Seabrook, was leaking under hydraulic pressure from pin holes.

"On April 9 Scotia Technology was required to issue a Notice of Escape to Boeing and the matter was reported to the Air Force," said the pleading. "At the Hill Air Force Base in Utah and at the Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia, the Air Force suspended A-10 operations."

Scotia claims that the Air Force's A-10 program required them to replace all of the tubing at no cost to Boeing. Scotia also had to expedite its production schedule and ship the replacement tubing in time to meet the Boeing deadline September 2012 imposed by the Air Force.

The specialized kind of treatment — called passivation — involves cleaning recently molded stainless steel piping to remove any production materials like iron or iron compounds that may linger after machining and fabricating.

If not property done, these corrosive agents can lead to extreme pitting and the possible failure of stainless steel components.

The suit said that Aerodynamics "holds itself out as accredited and certified by the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program" and said it complied with all required protocols.

Scotia claims that Aerodynamics used an alkaline solution that did not meet necessary standards, that one of the tanks the company used was not big enough to properly clean large tubes, and the rinse water was room temperature and not the required 140-160 degrees.

The suit also says that all of Areodynamics tanks were not labeled, that there was not enough nitric acid in the passivation bath, and that the tubes could not be rinsed in de-ionized water after the passivation bath because Aerodynamics used the same tub for both processes.

The suit also claims the drying operation at Aerodynamics was insufficient.

Scotia claims that they retained the independent company Materials Research that determined the chloride ions in the alkaline cleaning solution and in Seabrook tap water "were the root cause of the pinhole leaks in the stainless steel tubes."

Legally, Scotia filed a claim for breach of contract, breach of implied warranty of workman quality, a violation of the N.H. Consumer Protection Act, intentional or negligent misrepresentation and negligence.

At a scheduling hearing last week, Belknap County Judge James O'Neill determined both sides should be ready for trail by the end of 2015, but said both should reconsider mediation before moving forward to trial.

Lawyers for Scotia said mediation hasn't worked in the past and that Scotia fears that Aerodynamics will declare bankruptcy before mediation and trial.

Aerodynamics attorneys said the case is very complex, involves matters of national security, and that it will take a great deal of time to compile the discovery items that it anticipates will be requested by Scotia.