Iced out of a deal with Boeing?

A tiny firm sues, after missing out on the 787 contract.

By Phaedra Hise, FSB contributor

(FSB magazine) -- When Boeing showed interest in Thermion System's wing de-icing technology in 2002, the startup thought it had arrived. "Getting on the 787 would have given us the Good Housekeeping seal of approval," says Thermion vice president Jeffrey Parkin. The company, based in Stratford, Conn., says it spent $10 million to perfect its system. But because Boeing wouldn't buy directly from such a small outfit, it hooked up with industry giant GKN Aerospace (aerospace.gknplc.com), which went on to win a 14-year contract to make part of the de-icing system. In 2004, GKN issued a press release announcing a partnership with Thermion to work on the 787, but no contract was signed and Thermion (thermion.com) received no orders. With its hopes circling the drain, Thermion filed a $75 million lawsuit last October, alleging that GKN had substituted its own technology to grab a greater share of the 787 contract. Officials at GKN decline to comment. The case has been sent to arbitration in Britain (where both firms had offices). Thermion says being iced out of the deal may kill the company, which had $1 million in sales in 2006. It has closed its British research facility, and calls from potential aviation clients have ceased. Top of page

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