A Russian man has been accused of stealing jet engine technology from America's GE Aviation to help Russia's Aviadvigatel, part of state-owned UEC, design jet engine gearboxes for a large aircraft.
The US Justice Department announced on Thursday that it arrested the Russian man Alexander Yuryevich Korshunov, 57, and a former director for GE Aviation's Italian subsidiary named Maurizio Paolo Bianchi, 59, for the theft of jet engine technology from 2013-2018.
Korshunov allegedly tried to pry information about GE's wide-body engines from its engineers who were recruited by Bianchi to work on a smaller engine. Bianchi, in 2018, recruited a team of retired GE employees to work on gearboxes for a larger engine.
The Justice Department alleged that throughout the work, Bianchi's employees used trade secrets owned by GE Aviation, and that both Korshunov and Bianchi knew that.
"The new group must not know about the previous team. Those people are working for (GE) and cannot be exposed," Korshunov wrote in an email in early 2018, according to the charges.
Russia's first narrowbody commercial passenger aircraft, the MC-21, is powered by Aviadvigatel PD-14 engines. P&W engines were swapped for PD-14 after American sanctions.
Interestingly, on September 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was "ready to cooperate" with the US and purchase American materials in the production of specific components for its MC-21 jet. "But Russia eventually decided to build the airliner completely on its own," he added.
Speaking of the alleged theft, Putin added that UEC manufactured the engine from the scratch. "Indeed, we signed a contract with an Italian company for consultations — this is common practice worldwide and an open commercial work with European partners," Putin explained.