Hotline Highlight – Trust Your People, Not Paperwork

The hotline – ARSA’s premier member newsletter – contains news, editorial content, analysis and resources for the aviation maintenance community. All members should ensure they receive their edition the first week of each month. Not getting yours? Click here for direct access. For more information about the association’s periodicals, click here.

From the “ARSA Works” section…

By Christian A. Klein, Executive Vice President

In August, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) notified industry that AOG Technics, a United Kingdom-headquartered company, distributed “several” CFM56 engine parts with falsified Authorized Release Certificates. The actual number of affected parts is apparently in the thousands. The FAA issued its own unapproved parts notification against AOG Technics on Sept. 21, bringing the issue to the attention of U.S. media and sparking a frenzied review by operators. ARSA has been fielding calls from reporters ever since.

This episode underscores the problem of prioritizing paperwork over technical know-how. Misimpressions about the EASA Form 1’s infallibility have taken hold in industry and in the public mind. Reuters, for example, said “[a] release certificate is akin to a birth certificate for an engine part, guaranteeing it is genuine.” (Emphasis added.) It clearly doesn’t. AOG Technics allegedly created counterfeit forms that appeared genuine. Ultimately, it was a mechanic at TAP Air Portugal who identified the problem when comparing the purportedly new part to the fake form.

The allegations against AOG Technics suggest a vast conspiracy to defraud. While the FAA can refer cases to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, EASA must rely on law enforcement authorities in EU member states. Overreliance on paperwork paired with a lack of clear consequences have left a gap crooks can exploit. As the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The incident … poses questions about the efficacy of the pre-dominantly paper-based system used to track parts and the ease of fabrication.”

Governments may run on paperwork, but the last line of defense in aviation safety is still what it always has been: a trained and conscientious technician, not a piece of paper.

ARSA Training – Aircraft Parts

Not quite “ripped from the headlines” of questionable part documentation, this three part series from ARSA’s archives cover the basic requirements affecting the sale, purchase, and stocking of aircraft parts.

On-Demand Training Series: Aircraft Parts

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