16 Airbus staff fired over alleged industrial espionage

©Airbus

It has been revealed that Airbus has dismissed 16 of its staff, without notice, after a comprehensive investigation into what has been described as involvement in industrial espionage concerning military contracts for the German Armed forces (the Bundeswehr).

The European aerospace giant is a major supplier of the Bundeswehr through the regular awarding of contracts to provide new airplanes and helicopters, as well as performing retrofitting services for existing equipment. In September this year Airbus advised German authorities of certain “irregularities” relating to the handling of sensitive military documentation back in the autumn of 2018.

The whole matter came to light when one airbus employee questioned the company’s legal and compliance department, as well as his supervisors, whether he should have been given access to a confidential document he had just received. Following this incident, an audit of some 1.5 million documents took place along with numerous staff interviews. Initially some 90 Airbus employees fell under suspicion for either illegally obtaining or possessing confidential documents, including some data on the Bundeswehr’s military contracts, such as those on communication systems for the troops.

Eventually, employees of the Munich-based Program Line Communications, Intelligence and Security (CIS) ended up being suspected of “misappropriation” and “abuse” of some customer documents. The Bundeswehr has confirmed it was aware of the situation and that it has taken a disciplinary measure against an unnamed person within the Armed Forces.

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