Two Virgin Australia 737-800 aircraft have been temporarily removed from operational service after the airline discovered the inadvertent fitment of unapproved engine parts.
The affected aircraft operate on regional Australian scheduled services, and were grounded after the carrier became aware that the certification documents accompanying the engine parts had been falsified.
Virgin Australia bogus parts issue
The fitment of aircraft parts is tightly controlled, and unapproved parts which are referred to as ‘bogus parts’ remains a global industry concern in aircraft engineering and maintenance.
Bloomberg has previously reported that the bogus engine parts were sourced by Virgin Australia from a UK-based parts supplier called AOG Technics Ltd, who had supplied the piece parts with an accompanying EASA certification document.
On later inspection it was reportedly found that the EASA certification document had been falsified. The second finding of a bogus part by the Australian carrier followed the identification of an unauthorised engine part last week – a low-pressure turbine blade which had been fitted to one of the fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
According to West Australian news source WA Today, the second unauthorised part was subsequently discovered on another Virgin Australia fleet 737-800 over the weekend.
The second instance also involved in engine part – a seal on the inner high-pressure turbine nozzle. The second aircraft, registered VH-VUT, currently remains in engineering at Brisbane for removal of the bogus part.
The wider unapproved parts issue
In August 2023, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a notification about suspected unapproved parts distributed by AOG Technics.
The notification stated that several CFM56 engine parts distributed by AOG Technics had been supplied with falsified Authorized Release Certificates (ARCs).
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is also investigating the supply of a large number of suspected unapproved parts by AOG Technics.
The CAA has advised aircraft operators and maintenance organizations to be vigilant and to avoid using any parts supplied by the company.
Engine manufacturing giant CFM International launched legal proceedings against the UK-based parts supplier earlier this month, after it reportedly discovered the inadvertent fitment of unapproved parts with false certification documents to 68 of its aircraft engines.
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