FAA investigates counterfeit titanium used in Boeing, Airbus jets: report

Some jets from Boeing and Airbus have components that were sold using false documentation to verify the material's authenticity.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating how counterfeit titanium has been used in some components on Boeing and Airbus jets. Concerns have been raised about the structural integrity of some of the aircraft as a result. This comes as whistleblowers have been sounding the alarm on faulty safety practices in Boeing manufacturing facilities and practices.

Some jets from Boeing and Airbus have components that were sold using false documentation to verify the material's authenticity, according to a report from the New York Times. The falsified documents come from Spirit AeroSystems, which is a supplier of fuselages for Boeing as well as wings for Airbus. They also make deals with the FAA.  

In a statement, the FAA said that it was investigating the issue to determine its scope and trying to determine the safety of the planes the parts were used in. “Boeing reported a voluntary disclosure to the FAA regarding procurement of material through a distributor who may have falsified or provided incorrect records,” a statement from the FAA said. “Boeing issued a bulletin outlining ways suppliers should remain alert to the potential of falsified records.” 

The documents and investigation come at a time where Boeing has faced heightened scrutiny over its safety protocols. In January a panel from a Boeing 737 Max flew off of the aircraft mid-flight. The story went viral and the company has been heavily criticized over its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practices. In a different instance, Boeing told the FAA about a different controversy where there was a potentially falsified inspection records for the wings of 787 Dreamliner planes.  

Although the potentially false titanium has not been previously reported, it may not be a problem for only Boeing or Airbus. The planes that were built with the materials were made between 2019 and 2023. These included some Boeing 737 Maxes, 787 Dreamliners, as well as Airbus A220 jets, according to sources familiar with the matter, per the NYT. It is not clear how many planes were serviced with the materials exactly or what airlines may own the planes manufactured.  

“This is about documents that have been falsified, forged and counterfeited,” Spirit AeroSystems spokesman Joe Buccino said. “Once we realized the counterfeit titanium made its way into the supply chain, we immediately contained all suspected parts to determine the scope of the issues.” 

“This industrywide issue affects some shipments of titanium received by a limited set of suppliers, and tests performed to date have indicated that the correct titanium alloy was used,” Boeing said in a statement in response to the report. “To ensure compliance, we are removing any affected parts on airplanes prior to delivery. Our analysis shows the in-service fleet can continue to fly safely.” 

Airbus also maintained that “the A220’s airworthiness" is intact. “Numerous tests have been performed on parts coming from the same source of supply,” an Airbus spokeswoman stated. “The safety and quality of our aircraft are our most important priorities, and we are working in close collaboration with our supplier.”

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