FAA investigates the use of ‘counterfeit’ titanium in Boeing and Airbus jets

FAA building in Washington DC, the US
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the use of counterfeit titanium parts in Boeing and Airbus jets after concerns were raised by supplier Spirit AeroSystems. 

According to the New York Times, falsified documents purporting the authenticity for a batch of titanium were provided by a Chinese company in 2019 before it entered the aviation market.  

Spirit AreoSystems reportedly found small holes in the material from corrosion and immediately alerted the FAA about the issue.  

“This is about titanium that has entered the supply system via documents that have been counterfeited. When this was identified, all suspect parts were quarantined and removed from Spirit production,” Spirit AeroSystems said in a statement. 

The company added that “more than 1,000 tests have been completed to confirm the mechanical and metallurgical properties of the affected material to ensure continued airworthiness.” 

The FAA told the New York Times that it was trying to determine the safety implications.  

“Boeing reported a voluntary disclosure to the F.A.A. regarding procurement of material through a distributor who may have falsified or provided incorrect records,” the FAA statement said. “Boeing issued a bulletin outlining ways suppliers should remain alert to the potential of falsified records.” 

Three sources that spoke with the New York Times, claimed that aircraft built between 2019 and 2023, including Boeing 737 MAXs, 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A220s, may have components made with the material.  

“This industrywide issue affects some shipments of titanium received by a limited set of suppliers, and tests performed to date have indicated that the correct titanium alloy was used,” Boeing said in a statement. “To ensure compliance, we are removing any affected parts on airplanes prior to delivery. Our analysis shows the in-service fleet can continue to fly safely.” 

Airbus confirmed that the company is also aware of the issue and has taken steps to ensure the safety of its aircraft.  

“Numerous tests have been performed on parts coming from the same source of supply,” Airbus said in a statement. “They show that (aircraft) airworthiness remains intact. The safety and quality of our aircraft are our most important priorities and we are working in close collaboration with our supplier.” 

Tests on the titanium by Spirit AeroSystems have so far shown that they are appropriate grade for aircraft manufacturers. 

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