By Jana J. Pruet
Several major U.S. airlines have discovered that some of their aircraft’s engines were equipped with unapproved parts, which has resulted in a lawsuit against the parts supplier.
The parts, allegedly supplied by London-based AOG Technics, have been found in a small number of jet engines on U.S. aircraft belonging to United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, as well as some European carriers. AOG Technics is a company that acquires engine parts and sells them to maintenance and repair organizations.
The engine model most affected is reportedly the CFM56, produced by CFM International, a company that is jointly owned by General Electric (GE) and Safran Group of France. The CFM56 is a high-bypass turbo engine used in single-aisle commercial airliners including the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
CFM International did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for information.
Last week, Safran CEO Olivier Andries told CH-Aviation news that his company had never dealt with AOG Technics and that the size of the problem is still unclear, but that he estimates that about “100 parts may be affected.”
“We don’t know who they sold those parts to and whether all airlines have done their checks,” Mr. Andries said.
When Was the Issue Discovered?
The issue was initially uncovered by TAP Air Portugal this summer.
In July, the airline reported the problem after it “uncovered parts installed on certain CFM International manufactured engines were supported by fraudulent documentation,” according to CH-Aviation news.
On Sept 21, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an unapproved parts notification (UPN) to aircraft owners, operators, distributors, and others regarding a bushing that was sold by AOG without FAA production approval.
The FAA’s notice followed the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s alert issued in early August, which notified affected organizations about “suspected unapproved parts distributed by AOG Technics.”
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“Occurrence reports have been submitted to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) indicating that several CFM56 engine parts distributed by AOG Technic have been supplied with a falsified Authorized Release Certificate (ARC),” EASA said in an alert dated Aug. 4. “In each confirmed example, the approved organization, identified on the ARC, has attested that he form did not originate within their organization and the certificate has been falsified.”
US Carriers Respond
Southwest Airlines told The Epoch Times that it found only one engine affected within its fleet of more than 800 Boeing 737s.
“We became aware of the issue in early August and took necessary steps to ensure we do not have any parts in our fleet from AOG,” Southwest Airlines told The Epoch Times in a statement. “Our suppliers conducted a review of Southwest parts and identified one engine that contained two low-pressure turbine blades from this vendor. In an abundance of caution, we made an immediate decision to promptly replace those parts on that single engine.
Southwest said there was no impact on its operations or flight schedules.
American Airlines conducted internal audits and worked with suppliers to identify affected aircraft.
“Safety is the foundation on which our airline is built and operates every day,” American Airlines told The Epoch Times. “Through the work of internal audits as well as collaboration with our suppliers, we’ve identified the uncertified components on a small number of aircraft — each [was] immediately taken out of service for replacement.
The carrier has a main fleet of 944 aircraft. There are 469 Airbus products and 349 Boeing 737s in its fleet. It is not immediately clear how many the “small number” represents. (pdf)
“We’ll continue working with our suppliers and coordinating closely with the FAA to ensure these parts are no longer in our supply or otherwise in use on our aircraft.”
Delta Airlines said less than 1 percent of its engines contained unapproved parts. There are approximately 2,100 engines across the airline’s main fleet, according to Fox Business News.
“Delta has been informed by one of our engine service providers that a small number of engines they overhauled for us contain certain parts that do not meet documentation requirements. Working with the overhaul provider, we are in the process of replacing those parts and remain in compliance with all FAA guidelines – because safety is always our priority,” Delta said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
United Airlines said it discovered that AOG Technics parts were installed on two aircraft, but only in a single engine on each one.
“As we investigated this matter, we learned that compressor stator vane seals from this supplier had been installed on a single engine on each of two aircraft, including one that was already undergoing routine maintenance,” United told The Epoch News in an email. “We are replacing the affected engines on both aircraft before they are returned to service, and we’ll continue to investigate as new information becomes available from our suppliers,” the company continued.
CFM International has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of falsifying documents to sell engine parts to airlines, Fox Business News reported.
The Epoch Times was unable to locate contact information or a website for AOG Technics.