Reward for info. in Boeing sabotage

Boeing resumes Chinook production, probe continues
May 15, 2008 3:47:05 PM PDT
Boeing Rotorcraft has resumed operations on its H-47 chinook helicopter production line, while military investigators continue their probe into problems with two of the helicopters.

The Department of Defense is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification & conviction of the person or persons responsible for the recent vandalism of production line CH47 helicopters at the Boeing facility in Ridley Park. The contact line for giving information about the vandalism is (267) 228-2782. The phone line will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Officials at Boeing have refused to talk on camera about the on-going investigation, but all employees were told to report back to work on their regular shift Thursday.

Army criminal investigators are looking into damage to two of the military helicopters on a production line at the Boeing Co. plant in Ridley Township, Delaware county.

Rep. Joe Sestak, a Democrat whose district includes the plant, said Wednesday he was told that wires that appeared to be broken or severed were found in one helicopter and a suspicious washer was found in a second.

There is a "low probability that it was not deliberate," Sestak said, but he added that unintentional damage remains a possibility. Sestak said he has communicated with company and union officials at the plant and was told the investigation could take two weeks.

US Attorney Patrick Meehan says the vandalism discovered earlier this week will mean big trouble for the culprit.

"There are federal statutes which would implicate anybody who intentionally interferes with a mechanism like this that is being introduced into a theater of war," Meehan said.

The company didn't disclose specifics about why it shut down the H-47 Chinook line Tuesday. About 60 workers stayed home on Wednesday.

Dave Foster, an Army spokesman, said in an e-mail that normal production was expected to resume shortly.

"At present, this is thought to be an isolated incident, confined to these two aircraft," Foster said. He said the Defense Contract Management Agency was overseeing the situation.

All aircraft at the plant were being inspected, said Jack Satterfield, a company spokesman. He said the shutdown was isolated to one line at the plant and did not affect helicopters the military is already using.

Satterfield said the problems were found by two production employees who notified management.

The Defense Criminal Investigative Service had agents on the premises conducting interviews, said Gary Comerford, a spokesman for the agency. Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman Christopher Grey confirmed the agency was also involved in the investigation, but said he could not comment on it.

Ken Maupin of the DCIS told reporters ten agents have been assigned to the case.

Malpin hopes the 24-hour hot line lights up with tips.

"The majority of the people here are hard working, they're loyal Americans and many of them are veterans and they want to find these people as much as we do," Malpin said.

Those sentiments were echoed by union President John DeFrancisco, who said many of his members want answers more than reward money.

On Thursday, for the first time in two days, all workers are back on their normal shifts while the investigation continues.

The Chinook is known as the Army's workhorse aircraft. It is used to transport troops and supplies. Boeing is currently producing new Chinooks for the Army as well as updating older models.

The DCIS hotline number to report information is 267-228-2742.