United States and European carriers are faced with trouble of having fake engine parts found in their Boeing and Airbus jets.
According to report by Bloomberg, this spring, engineers at TAP Air Portugal’s maintenance subsidiary huddled around an aircraft engine that had come in for repair. The exposed CFM56 turbine looked like just another routine job for a shop that handles more than 100 engines a year. Only this time, there was cause for alarm.
The report further explained that workers noticed that a replacement part, a damper to reduce vibration, showed signs of wear, when the accompanying paperwork identified the component as fresh from the production line. On June 21, TAP pointed out the discrepancy to Safran SA, the French aerospace company that makes CFM engines together with General Electric Co.
Safran quickly determined that the paperwork had been forged. The signature wasn’t that of a company employee, and the reference and purchase order numbers on the part also didn’t add up, the report added.
To date, Safran and GE have uncovered more than 90 other certificates that had similarly been falsified. Bogus parts have been found on 126 engines, and all are linked to the same parts distributor in London: AOG Technics Ltd., a little-known outfit started eight years ago by a young entrepreneur named Jose Alejandro Zamora Yrala, Bloomberg report stated.
All major US carriers and half a dozen others have identified bogus parts from AOG on their airplanes. While no flight emergencies have been called due to engine malfunctions, the audacity of the scam, dating back several years, highlights a risky gap in a system that’s made flying the world’s safest form of transportation. And the ease at which safety protocols were breached has prompted soul-searching in an industry where a decades-old system has suddenly revealed worrying loopholes.
“If people want to cheat, it’s going to be hard to stop them,” Tim Zemanovic, who runs Fillmore Aviation LLC, a Minneapolis-area company that sells recycled aircraft parts told Bloomberg.
BusinessDay had last week reported that the British airline industry was on red alert after a London supplier was accused of selling jet engine parts with fraudulent safety certificates, leading the regulator to investigate.
AOG Technics Ltd, based in London, was being investigated by regulators over claims it supplied fake parts for jet engines powering many older-generation Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 planes.
According to Dailymail, the scandal has already engulfed the US airline industry. After American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines pulled planes from their rosters, Delta Airlines announced on Monday that it has also removed several engines from service.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed some parts sourced from AOG Technics are on engines fitted to UK aircraft. The agency has issued a safety notice to all UK organisations warning them to investigate their records thoroughly to check the source of aircraft parts.
A spokesperson from the CAA told Mail Online: “We can confirm that we are one of a number of organisations looking into this, but we are unable to comment further on ongoing investigations.”
The regulator has recommended that all CAMO, operators, owners and maintainers and distributers investigate their records thoroughly to “determine the provenance of any parts acquired either directly or indirectly from Aircraft On Ground Technics.
“For each part obtained, please contact the approved organisation identified on the ARC [airworthiness release certificates] to verify the origin of the certificate,” the Civil Aviation Authority said.
“If the approved organisation attests that the ARC did not originate from that organisation, then all affected parts should be quarantined to prevent installation. If a part is found with falsified ARC which has already been installed it should be replaced with an approved part.”