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US watchdog warns airlines over spare part scam

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US watchdog warns airlines over spare part scam

Old 29th Jan 2002, 10:47
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Unhappy US watchdog warns airlines over spare part scam

US authorities are expected to issue a warning to the world's airlines after the discovery of a company illegally selling second-hand Airbus parts.

Six people have been arrested in Rome for allegedly trafficking in airline parts from ageing Airbus A300s.

The plane was the type which crashed in Queens, New York in November, killing 265 people.

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to issue a formal warning about the safety of the parts the firm sold.

Italian company Panaviation allegedly dismantled the six planes to sell their parts to American, Canadian and other airlines using false documentation to claim they were airworthy.

Police who swooped on a hangar near Rome found the partially dismantled planes and in a series of raids found more than 80,000 parts ready to be shipped to America.

The FBI is already investigating whether the American Airlines Airbus A300 which crashed was fitted with faulty spare parts.

More than 1,000 aircraft could be affected by the alleged scam, with up to 167 countries likely to be sent the warning.

Italian police found documents showing Panaviation had supplied American Airlines, leading to the fear that faulty parts may have caused the New York crash.

Panaviation's president Enzo Fregonese is under house in Rome, while his daughter Patrizia, two of his employees and two officials of the Italian airline Meridiana are also accused of jeopardising transport security, fraud and extortion.
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Old 29th Jan 2002, 11:23
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Anyone who buys what are known to be substandard counterfeit or non-reconditioned used aircraft parts because they're substantially cheaper than genuine ones knowingly risks innocent lives.......

However, someone buying parts which, although marginally cheaper than the manufacturer's own, are sold as genuine but are in fact not is the unwitting victim of fraud. Criminals flogging off such parts should be given very long jail sentences indeed!!

[ 29 January 2002: Message edited by: BEagle ]</p>
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Old 29th Jan 2002, 13:58
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Beagle,

Could someone buy a "dodgy" part, believing it to be genuine, if they stuck to reputable dealers, or are you saying that the dealers themselves may be duped?

Following the AA plane crash in Colombia, it was estimated that as many as 523 parts could have been removed, and be available on the second-hand market - "counterfeiters descended on the crash site, stealing aircraft parts before all of the 159 bodies were removed. They used sophisticated tools to extract major aircraft components, including cockpit avionics and engine thrust reversers, and flew such parts off the steep mountainside using helicopters"!

An article appearing in 1997, makes grim reading:. . <a href="http://www.bmpllp.com/Articles/IP-Aviation.htm" target="_blank">http://www.bmpllp.com/Articles/IP-Aviation.htm</A>
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Old 29th Jan 2002, 15:45
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Merely dismantling non-crashed aircraft and selling the parts in 'As removed' condition is not illegal. It's when something is then declared to be new, or overhauled/repaired/tested that it's fraud, unless the part has been through a repair shop. It would then have a Tag from that shop. It's up to the buyer and his Quality Control procedures to pick up on that. Most times, it's easy to tell if a part's removed from a 'Teardown' aircraft, because of the physical condition (Dirt in crevices, witness marks where bolts have been fitted, etc, etc.)

Moral is, buy from a known supplier with a good reputation, and insist on knowing the part's history. Any reputable supplier will be happy to do this. Half the problem with Suspect Unapproved Parts (SUP's) is that the FAA would not get involved for many years, their view was that it was a criminal matter, and therefore in the hands of the FBI. Our own CAA was approached by many parts suppliers, asking for some sort of accreditation scheme, but this has fallen on deaf ears as well.

The whole spare parts industry is a lot cleaner than it used to be, but it goes to show that it's still possible for criminal activity to take place. Buyer beware!!
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