Criminal probe into firm accused of selling ‘suspect’ plane parts to airlines

Fraud investigators have arrested a UK businessman at the centre of a suspect aircraft parts scandal following a dawn raid on his home.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), together with National Crime Agency officers, arrested an individual linked to UK-based AOG Technics Ltd, a company supplying aircraft parts, some of them safety-critical, to major airlines in the UK and around the world.

The SFO said the raid was part of a new criminal investigation into the company, which is already under investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority. SFO investigators said they seized material and were continuing to question the person arrested.

AOG has supplied parts for the world’s best-selling passenger aircraft engine, the CF56, which is used in Airbus and Boeing aircraft, as well as parts for the CF6 engine, widely employed in cargo aircraft around the globe.

Portuguese airline TAP was first to raise the alarm early this year. They discovered that some engine parts showed significant wear despite having been supplied by AOG with documents suggesting they were new.

The discovery led to regulators issuing international safety alerts, and more parts were discovered on planes operated by other carriers including Ryanair, Delta, American Airlines and Southwestern.

The SFO said it was working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority and other regulators to examine the information obtained, as it advances its criminal investigation into suspected fraud and determined whether there are grounds for prosecution.

This is the third new investigation launched since Nick Ephgrave joined the UK’s specialist anti-fraud agency as director in September.

Mr Ephgrave, a former senior Scotland Yard officer, said: “This investigation deals with very serious allegations of fraud involving the supply of aircraft parts, the consequences of which are potentially far-reaching.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave has sadly confirmed the body found in the woodland in Kent has been identified as Sarah Everard. Credit Met Police Image from twitter
Nick Ephgrave, the former Scotland Yard officer who now heads the Serious Fraud Office (Photo: Met Police)

“The SFO is best placed to take this investigation forward vigorously and we are determined to establish the facts as swiftly as possible.”

Jet engine maker CFM International said more than half of the 145 engines suspected, thus far, of containing falsely documented parts from a UK distributor had been removed from service.

CFM Aviation, a US company which makes the authentic engines, secured a High Court injunction in London against AOG, ordering it to reveal which companies it had supplied with parts. CFM said it had completed an “exhaustive” review of the documentation provided by AOG Technics and had shared the results with the relevant authorities.

It said 180 falsified documents, covering 124 part numbers had been identified. It stressed that the aircraft affected had been grounded and the parts replaced. It said the engines accounted for less than 1 per cent of the 22,600 CFM56 engines in service.

AOG was approached for comment.