Boeing, Airbus say planes with titanium parts sold with falsified records are safe

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Boeing and Airbus emphasized that there are no safety concerns after revealing Friday that some titanium parts used in their aircraft had falsified documentation, triggering a federal investigation.

Boeing did not say which models of aircraft or how many were affected by the titanium parts, but the company emphasized that it does not believe the discovery impacts safety. 

“Our analysis shows the in-service fleet can continue to fly safely,” Boeing said.

Airbus said the parts wound up on its A220 model, a relatively small airliner that is used on shorter routes, but that the model is still airworthy.

“Numerous tests have been performed on parts coming from the same source of supply,” said Airbus, which has its main offices and assembly plant in France. “They show that the A220’s airworthiness remains intact.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it will launch an investigation into how parts without proper documentation were installed on aircraft. Boeing said it will remove the parts from planes that have yet to be delivered to customer airlines.

The FAA is “investigating the scope and impact of the issue,” The Associated Press reported. The agency said Boeing reported the issue with an unnamed distributor “who may have falsified or provided incorrect records.”

Spirit AeroSystems, Boeing’s main manufacturing subsidiary, said titanium parts came with counterfeit paperwork.

“This is about titanium that has entered the supply system via documents that have been counterfeited,” Spirit spokesperson Joe Buccino told the AP. “When this was identified, all suspect parts were quarantined and removed from Spirit production.”

Buccino said more than 1,000 tests have been conducted on the material “to ensure continued airworthiness.”

The investigation, first reported by The New York Times, was sparked when a parts supplier found corrosive damage on titanium parts. Titanium alloy parts are extremely common in aerospace manufacturing, selected for the metal’s strength and heat resistance.

It also comes as Boeing and Spirit are already under intense scrutiny for the manufacturing process of the 737 Max series aircraft. A previous FAA investigation after a door blew out of a flight in January found severe lapses in the company’s safety protocols in manufacturing.

“There are issues around the safety culture in Boeing. Their priorities have been focused on production and not on safety and quality,” FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker said in March. “And so, what we are really focused on now is shifting that focus from production to safety and quality.”

The FAA said its six-week audit of Boeing found “multiple instances when the companies allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements.”

The Associated Press contributed.

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