Boeing wins legal battle with MDHI over AH-6i rights

Boeing has won an $11 million judgement against MD Helicopters Inc. (MDHI) over the rights to its AH-6i Light Attack Reconnaissance helicopter, with an arbitration panel ruling that the aerospace giant owns the intellectual property and right to produce the type, and that MDHI must stop interfering with Boeing’s attempts to do so.

The action was the latest in the two companies’ ongoing dispute into the legacy of a 2005 agreement, in which MDHI sold Boeing ownership of the underlying intellectual property needed to build the Mission Enhanced Little Bird (based on the MD 530F) – and the right to make and sell any aircraft derived from it. The Mission Enhanced Little Bird (MELB), also known as the AH-6M, was created in the 1990s as a vehicle for U.S. Army Special Forces. It enhanced the mission performance of the AH-6 Little Bird by adding components from the more powerful 600N to the MD 500 series airframe.

The panel was asked to resolve two primary issues: if Boeing has the right to make and sell the AH-6i Little Bird, and whether Boeing must disclose all improvements it has made to the Mission Enhanced Little Bird (MELB) to MDHI.

Finding in Boeing’s favor, the panel decided that the AH-6i was directly derived from the MELB. In addition to making MDHI pay Boeing’s $4.2 million arbitration costs (and its own $7.4 million costs), the arbitrators ordered the OEM to provide Boeing with all MELB tooling, one set of common tooling, and one set of tooling drawings by April 30.