Almost 100 Planes Removed From Service After Report Suspects Release Certificate Forgery

Almost 100 aircraft may be taken out of service for checks following an investigation into the suspected forgery of release certificates. Matthew Reeve, a lawyer for CFM International, the aircraft engine manufacturer who ordered the parts, denounced the scheme as a ‘dishonest and sophisticated scheme.’

A CFM Engine. CFM has taken almost 100 planes out of service following reports that their engine release certificates were forged.
Matthew Reeve denounced the scheme as a ‘dishonest and sophisticated scheme.’© Cyril Abad / CAPA Pictures / Safran

AOG Technics Accused of Forging Release Certificates

CFM had ordered the engine parts from English tech development firm AOG Technics. Components provided by AOG were used in the development and construction of CFM’s CFM56 and CF6 engines, high bypass turbo-fan engines. The former is touted as ‘the best-selling engine in commercial aviation history’ by Safran, one co-owner of CFM alongside General Electric (GE). CFM’s engines largely power commercial jets like Boeing or Airbus, but CFM also counts the American, British, and French military among their customers.

Reuters reports that CFM claimed it was notified by a Portuguese maintenance and repair company in June. The company suspected that AOG technics may have forged airworthiness release certificates for engine components.

Safran's Hydraulic Break Crown.
United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed it has begun investigating. © Adrien Daste / Safran

In a safety notice, United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed it has begun investigating “the supply of a large number of Suspect Unapproved Parts, all of which were supplied through a UK-based company, AOG Technics Limited.” Thus far, the CAA has found that CFM and GE parts with falsified airworthiness release certificates had been supplied to maintainers.

The CAA also confirmed that a portion of these parts had been fitted to aircraft registered in the UK and encouraged operators, owners, distributors, and maintainers to trace the origins of each release certificate attributed to their engines. Any parts found with falsified release certificates should be replaced.

Planes With Parts Supplied by AOG Technics Will Be Taken Out of Service

CFM have pulled almost 100 planes out of service for investigations into the safety of their engines, pictured here.
CFM has pulled almost 100 planes out of service for investigations into the safety of their engines, pictured here. © Safran-Group.

Since discovering these falsified documents, CFM has taken AOG Technics to court, ordering them to release paperwork linked to CFM56 and CF6 engines since February 2015. The firm has also requested that AOG hand over documents related to any parts supplied.

Reuters reports that industry sources claim parts supplied by AOG were small and not critical for the engine’s function. However, CFM’s lawyer stated the falsified documents risked between 48 and 96 aircraft potentially being taken out of service.

By Monday, the number of engines suspected to have parts with forged documents had risen to 96. But Reeve said in court filings that CFM and its engine partners have “compelling documentary evidence that thousands of jet engine parts have been sold by AOG to airlines operating commercial aircraft fitted with the claimants’ jet engines.”

Representatives of AOG and Jose Zamora Yrala stated that the defendants are “cooperating fully” with the CAA’s investigation. In the hearing, the firm did not address the forgery claims, but AOG’s lawyer, Tom Cleaver, disputed that GE might need many of the company’s documents to contact potential buyers. Instead, Cleaver suggested that responsibility lies with another manufacturer:

“Everybody now knows that AOG parts are not necessarily to be taken to be the claimants’ parts.”

Judge Richard Meade ruled for disclosure of “invoices, release certificates, memos of shipment and purchase orders” by AOG and Zamora Yrala. The firm has been ordered to supply documents for 230 transactions to CFM, who welcomed the order, which they claimed would aid them in their investigation to locate the parts.

Thus far, there have been no reports of parts with falsified release certificates used by military carriers.

What do you think of these forged release certificates? How much responsibility do you think lies on AOG, and how much on CFM? Let us know in the comments!

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Bella Pelster
Bella Pelster
I'm a Londoner with a huge passion for travel, history and sustainability. In my spare time I love reading novels (any genre, any author) and watching television and films (mostly the sopranos)!