One of the questions being asked about April’s jet engine explosion is whether the fan blades were substandard parts. It is very unlikely, but there are many other parts of the aircraft that have been found to be substandard or even counterfeit. The Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has completed an audit of the FAA and found that they had consistently failed to alert federal law enforcement authorities about suspect parts installed in U.S. airplanes. They also charged that the agency had closed investigations without ensuring that counterfeit and improperly manufactured parts (SUPs) were removed.
The manufacturing and supply chain have been moving to the east in countries like China and India, which may be part of the problem. The safety threat posed by fraudulent parts is likely to increase unless federal authorities become more aggressive in combating it. “We’re outsourcing so much work into those regions (that) the propensity for risk increases exponentially,” said Michael Dreikorn, a former FAA safety inspector who helped set up the agency’s first Suspected Unapproved Parts (SUP) program in the 1990s. Whether it is fake engine parts or counterfeit electronic components in control systems, something must be done to protect the safety of the public.