General Electric Co. and Safran SA revealed a growing number of engines fitted with parts sold by a UK distributor with falsified airworthiness records, highlighting how the scandal involving uncertified components continues to spread.
(Bloomberg) — General Electric Co. and Safran SA revealed a growing number of engines fitted with parts sold by a UK distributor with falsified airworthiness records, highlighting how the scandal involving uncertified components continues to spread.
The partners in CFM International Inc. found 126 engines holding components sold by AOG Technics Ltd., the London-based firm at the center of the parts probe. That number compares with 96 engines previously discovered. CFM has also identified 95 falsified documents related to the parts, also an increase from late September.
Some of the affected engines were fitted with AOG-supplied parts in CFM’s own repair shops, the company said in a statement. The developments come as CFM, the world’s largest manufacturer of jet engines, seeks to pinpoint the origin of the parts and who purchased them. More forged records and affected engines may still be uncovered.
The scandal involving a little-known UK supplier is reverberating around the industry, with an increasing number of airlines saying they’ve found suspected unapproved parts on their aircraft. The incidents have spread from Portugal to the US and as far as Australia, underscoring the global nature of the problem and the effort it will take to fix it.
On Wednesday, Canada’s WestJet said that one of its aircraft contained “certain parts that did not meet documentation requirements.” The company said it grounded the plane and replaced the affected engine, and a thorough review of the entire fleet found now other suspected unapproved parts.
GE and Safran must still sift through additional records provided by AOG on Wednesday, the deadline imposed by a London judge for the supplier to produce documents. The CFM partners last month asked a UK court to force AOG to hand over documents relating to “every single sale of products.”
“CFM is reviewing the documentation turned over by AOG Technics as part of our effort to determine the full extent of their sale of parts with fraudulent documentation,” the company said in a statement.
Bloomberg News was first to report that AOG had put suspected unapproved parts into circulation, and that the company relied on fabricated documents for transactions.
Following an extensive review of its supplier network, CFM discovered that it itself had purchased parts from AOG and fitted them to engines.
CFM found four instances in which AOG parts entered the engine maker’s network of in-house repair shops. In one of those, a CFM unit bought the parts directly from AOG. The three others involved third parties that had sourced components from AOG before selling them to CFM, the company said.
CFM’s purchase from AOG involved a limited number of low-pressure turbine blades that were held out to be new parts when in reality they had been previously used and repaired.
Inspections revealed the blades were not as bright as they should be and had other qualities inconsistent with new parts, such as signs welding and residual corrosion, according to a legal filing seen Bloomberg News.
CFM said it’s not aware of any operational issues stemming from the suspect parts. The majority of parts involved were non-serialized items like bolts, nuts, washers, dampers, seals and bushings.
In all, 16 engines were fitted with AOG parts in CFM’s repair shops. While that’s less than 1% of the more than 22,000 CFM56 engines in service globally, it shows how the parts could find their way into even the most sophisticated workshops. The company plans to review how it evaluates suppliers in light of the findings, a CFM spokesman said.
European and US regulators have said that London-based AOG sold parts backed by falsified airworthiness records for a longstanding type of jet engine powering many older-generation Airbus SE A320 and Boeing Co. 737 aircraft.
GE and CFM said last month that thousands of jet-engine parts with faked documents were sold by AOG, which airlines, CFM and others in the industry have been racing to find and remove them from their aircraft.
Delta Air Lines Inc. earlier this week said it had found components from AOG on a number of its aircraft, joining other major carriers including Southwest Airlines Co. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. announcing similar discoveries.
–With assistance from Siddharth Philip and Mathieu Dion.
(Updates with findings from engine makers throughout.)
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