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!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.