WASHINGTON — Boeing agreed to an $8.1 million settlement with the federal government to resolve allegations that the company submitted false claims and made false statements regarding its contracts with the U.S. Navy to build the tiltrotor V-22 Osprey, the Justice Department said Thursday.

The government had alleged that from about 2007 to 2018, Boeing failed to conduct contractually required monthly tests on autoclaves that were used in the process of curing composite materials used to make Ospreys at its Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, facility. Autoclaves are pressure cooker-like machines that use high heat and pressure to sterilize objects and kill bacteria.

The settlement, which was signed Wednesday, said Boeing denies the allegations that it failed to conduct the required autoclave tests, and does not admit liability. Justice said that the claims – while now resolved – remain allegations. Boeing and the government agreed to the settlement to avoid lengthy litigation to resolve the claims.

The U.S. Navy did not immediately respond to Defense News’ requests for comment. A Boeing spokesperson reiterated in a statement that the settlement reflected no admission of liability.

Justice said that former Boeing employees who worked on autoclave operations and composites fabrication on the V-22 program and filed a civil action in 2016 under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. The government will pay those former employees more than $1.5 million as part of the settlement of the case, and Boeing will pay their attorneys more than $1.1 million for their fees and costs.

“The government expects contractors to adhere to contractual obligations to which they have agreed and for which they have been paid,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, who is head of Justice’s civil division, said in the statement. “Today’s settlement demonstrates our commitment to hold accountable contractors who violate such obligations and undermine the integrity of the government’s procurement process.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated after publication to include a brief Boeing comment.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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