Did an Explosive Drone Mistakenly Make It Onto a Delta Flight?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
A former employee has accused drone manufacturer AeroVironment of transporting an explosives-laden drone onboard a commercial flight.
Mark Anderson, a former security chief at AeroVironment, alleged that in late April 2015, at least one AeroVironment employee carried one of the company’s “Switchblade” military drones containing live explosives onboard a Delta flight from Salt Lake City (SLC) to Los Angeles (LAX). The employee had the drone in carry-on luggage, “risking the lives of approximately 230 passengers and innumerable civilians had the drone caused the plane to crash over a densely populated area.” The Switchblade is a small drone that can fit in a backpack and can be used to survey enemy positions and attack them by diving onto them and exploding.
In a lawsuit filed with the California Superior Court on April 18 of this year, Anderson alleged that AeroVironment fired him after he discovered the incident and reported it to the US Department of Defense in May 2015. Anderson says that the company reprimanded him, stripped him of his responsibilities, and ultimately fired him without offering severance. Anderson also stated that every other employee involved in the incident was eventually fired or forced out as well, “in an apparent effort at damage control.”
Furthermore, the president and CEO, Wahid Nawabi, “pressured employees to mislead the government about ongoing security violations and mishandling of top-secret information,” according to research company Aurelius Value. Aurelius Value’s independent research estimated that more than 50 senior executives and employees have left AeroVironment since the alleged cover-up.
According to the lawsuit, Anderson was a “highly commended employee of Aerovironment, and at one point managed security for all of the company’s top-secret government programs, including the ‘Switchblade’ drone program — an explosive-bearing model that was significantly smaller than most other unmanned weaponized aircraft in use.”
Anderson’s lawsuit lists AeroVironment and Nawabi as the defendants, as well as “Does 1–20 inclusive” – presumably the other employees involved in his firing, whose names Anderson does not know. The complaint asks the court for a jury trial to evaluate damages from whistleblower discrimination; race discrimination; and wrongful termination.
Aurelius Value evaluated the lawsuit on May 17, stating that Anderson’s allegations against AeroVironment could disrupt the company’s partnerships with various government agencies, which comprise around 55% of the defense contractor’s revenue.
TPG has reached out to both AeroVironment as well as Delta Air Lines for comment.
Featured image courtesy of AeroVironment.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees