Being an aircraft mechanic has long been an important job. As an aircraft mechanic, you are the person that literally keeps the plane in the sky. During the many wars and conflicts in which the U.S. was a part, the aircraft mechanic was indispensable and anyone who held the position was highly-regarded by their peers.
Obviously, there is danger involved in being a mechanic on such a large piece of machinery. Things could go wrong and injury could occur, but mechanics are extra careful and usually do their job without incident.
What many airplane mechanics of the past didn’t know, however, was that their job was putting them at risk for cancer and other diseases, including those associated with asbestos.
Northrop Grumman is one of the manufacturers that has consistently been in the news in regards to asbestos exposure experienced by those who worked on their aircraft.
Grumman Aerospace – which became Northrop Grumman in 1994 – was considered one of the top manufacturers of both military and civilian airplanes for decades but – unfortunately – many of the parts they used in their aircraft built prior to the late 1970s contained asbestos.
Northrop Grumman asbestos use included items such as:
• Brakes and brake pads
• Heat shields
• Electrical systems
• And many others
In wartime, mechanics were expected to make quick but thorough repairs to aircraft so that they could be put back into service as swiftly as possible.
Mechanics generally wore no protective gear on their faces – such as masks or respirators – so when they did their quick work on military airplanes, exposure to asbestos dust was certainly likely.
Furthermore, repairs were often made in small, poorly-ventilated hangars, which also made inhalation of asbestos dust much more likely.
As such, Northrop Grumman has been named as a defendant in many lawsuits involving plaintiffs with mesothelioma cancer. In some cases, the company has been able to wiggle its way out of responsibility for the poor health of former aircraft mechanics and others exposed to their products.
In other instances, Northrop Grumman’s aircraft division has had to face the negligence of their actions and has been made to compensate those injured by this blatant disregard for human life.
One can also cite cases of secondary exposure to asbestos involving Northrop Grumman. Just six months ago, the wife of a man who was employed by the aircraft manufacturer from 1978 to 1985 received a verdict of $9 million from a Florida jury after it was proven that her diagnosis of mesothelioma resulted from being exposed to asbestos dust on the clothes of her husband after his long work days at Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.
The company has had similar asbestos-related complaints filed in regards to their shipbuilding division. Thousands of both military and civilian employees were at some point exposed to asbestos-containing Northrop Grumman products while working in shipyards across the country and, decades later, are suffering from deadly mesothelioma.
Northrop Grumman continues to maintain their innocence in these cases.