02/26/2011

RUAG has been in the wars

With Ueli Leuenberger denouncing them for going to Abu Dhabi to sell arms, and the Temps Present TV programme reminding us of their treatment of a whistleblower, RUAG are definitely in the wars right now!


The RUAG industrial complex includes RUAG Aviation, which in turn contains a military aviation division and a business aviation division. On the Meyrin side of Geneva airport is sited part of its business aviation division, which includes workshops for what RUAG refers to as maintenance and repair of business and executive jets. In actual fact, it seems to concentrate quite heavily on Pilatus PC12 aircraft, which are not  pure jet aircraft.

On 23 February this paper (Tribune de Genève) reported that the Green Party, via its President Ueli Leuenberger, denounced the presence of RUAG at the military arms fair Idxex 2011, held at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Given the current rather explosive situation in that part of the world, he perhaps has a good point.

The next day it was the turn of the TV programme Temps Present, dealing with the treatment of whistleblowers in Switzerland, to remind everyone how, when an employee of RUAG denounced a racket whereby sales of surplus Swiss military equipment, organised by RUAG back in 2003, were rigged so that favoured enterprises could get the equipment much below real value, then immediately resell it for a fat profit. After telling RUAG, and then the Swiss federal defence department, what was happening, but seeing no action, he told the media. The inevitable result (at that time): he was sacked and prosecuted! Other times, other seasons.

That particular event was reported in the press as long ago as 2006. At that time, the magazine l'Hebdo reported on the RUAG affair, under the headline

Dénoncer son patron, bientôt légal en Suisse?

Since the first statement in the Temps Present programme was a statement (perhaps optimistic) that whistleblowers would soon not only be protected, as in other European countries, but also be obliged to report corrupt behaviour, it looks as if nothing has really happened since 2006. There was a suggestion that some heads of industry, and also the UDC, are against these changes, so we can perhaps ask ourselves when such changes could actually become law.

In the Meyrin workshops it is only civil aircraft which are handled. In reading of their apparent emphasis on jet aircraft, I was a little surprised, since the aircraft that I have most often seen around there are Pilatus PC12 turboprop aircraft. Hardly the sort of really expensive and fast private jets which are prevalent there.

002.JPGChecking there again, and then consulting a Pilatus production list Web site, it looks as if Pilatus probably send new aircraft, with provisional Swiss registration (such as HB-FRE) to Meyrin to be prepared for the end customers. Thus, For the registration HB-FRE, which is not included in teh official Swiss register, the one currently at Meyrin is the 11th one to have arrived here.

While I was there I noted that the workshop contained what looked like a PC12 completely stripped down to a bare metal fuselage: that should provide quite a bit of work. At the same time, another PC12 (HB-FVA, of Explorair AG, Basel) was being toed into a different hangar. I think this means that Pilatus is offering quite a lot of business to RUAG in Meyrin.

Let us hope that there is no need for any whistle-blowing there.

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