Drone Maker Accused of Covering Up Bomb in Bag on Delta Flight

AeroVironment Inc. was accused of trying to conceal that employees transported a drone rigged with explosives on a commercial flight and retaliating against a manager who told the government.

In April 2015, AeroVironment workers traveled to Los Angeles from Salt Lake City on a Delta Air Lines Inc. flight with at least one of them toting an explosive-laden drone in a carry-on bag, according to an April 18 complaint in California Superior Court in Los Angeles. There were about 230 civilian passengers aboard, the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff, Mark Anderson, who oversaw security for the drone-maker’s top-secret government programs, learned of the incident in May 2015, according to the complaint. After reporting it to the U.S. Department of Defense, he was reprimanded, stripped of his responsibilities and ultimately fired without severance, Anderson alleges.

Aurelius Value, a short-seller, highlighted the lawsuit in a report Thursday, saying the allegations could disrupt AeroVironment’s relationship with government agencies. Sales to the U.S. account for about 55 percent of the firm’s revenue, the Monrovia, California-based company said in its annual report.

Representatives for AeroVironment didn’t respond to phone and email messages seeking comment and a Delta spokesman had no immediate comment.

Shares of the drone maker rose 4.7 percent to $55.31 at 1:54 p.m. in New York, erasing an earlier decline of as much as 5.9 percent.

The case is Mark Anderson v. AeroVironment Inc., BC702904, California Superior Court in Los Angeles County.