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U.K. Makes Arrest in Probe Into Jet-Engine Parts Scandal

Fraud watchdog launches criminal investigation into AOG Technics with dawn raid.  Suspected unapproved parts have been found on more than 100 jet engines. 

The U.K. has launched a criminal investigation into alleged fraud at an aircraft-parts supplier suspected of selling thousands of jet-engine components with fake safety certificates that have been found in dozens of jets, including some operated by major U.S. airlines.

The Serious Fraud Office said Wednesday it had raided an address and arrested an individual as part of its probe into AOG Technics. The London-based company’s lone director and shareholder is Jose Zamora Yrala.

AOG Technics didn’t respond to a request for comment, and a lawyer who previously represented Zamora said he no longer acted for him.

Aviation regulators in the U.K., U.S. and European Union earlier this year issued notices warning airlines that it suspected AOG of having provided false documentation for engine components. Those parts, ranging from simple nuts and bolts to more critical turbine blades, went into engines manufactured by General Electric and France’s Safran, which are used to power one of Boeing’s best-selling jets.

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Jet Defects Stoke Debate Over Who Should Inspect Mechanics’ Work

Workers say self-inspections increase risks; jet makers and suppliers say self-checks aren’t the problem

Boeing earlier this year paused deliveries of some 737 jets because of incorrectly installed parts. Should airplane mechanics be responsible for checking their own work?

The question is the subject of a long-simmering feud between workers and executives at major aircraft manufacturers. The debate has intensified as the aerospace industry deals with a series of costly manufacturing defects.

Workers say having a separate inspector sign off is critical for quality control in an industry with no margin for error. Union leaders at Spirit AeroSystems, a problem-plagued supplier to Boeing, say the company has put itself at greater risk of making mistakes by calling for self-inspections on certain tasks.

“We have inspectors for a reason,” said Cornell Beard, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers chapter representing workers at Spirit’s Wichita, Kan., factory. “These are airplanes; if there’s a problem, we don’t get to pull over on a cloud and kick the tires.”

Executives at aircraft makers and suppliers say self-inspections are used on a small percentage of tasks and that technological advances have reduced the need for separate inspectors.

Excerpt from WSJ
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Airbus Plans to Boost Production of Biggest Jets Amid Rebounding Demand

Plane maker wants to avoid supply constraints it has suffered on smaller narrow-body model

LONDON—Airbus SE buoyed by its latest deal to sell wide-bodies to Air India Ltd., is planning to boost production rates of its two biggest models as it tries to capitalize on resurgent demand for long-haul travel, according to people familiar with the matter.

The European plane maker is planning to increase its so-called build rate for both of its currently produced wide-body aircraft, the A350 and the A330neo, according to these people. An announcement could come as early as this week, the people said, cautioning that a decision has yet to be finalized.

Airbus EADSY -0.44%decrease; red down pointing triangle slashed production of its wide-body planes at the onset of the pandemic, when travel restrictions and border closures brought international traffic to a near standstill and airlines were clamoring to cancel and defer aircraft orders.

With the relaxation of most Covid-19 travel protocols, airlines are now facing a dearth of available wide-body jets, leaving carriers trying to bring back into service previously mothballed models. Those include the Airbus A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane. Carriers are also trying to snatch up rentals from aircraft-leasing firms.

Excerpt from WSJ
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Airbus Revives Order From Qatar Airways Following Paint-Dispute Settlement

European plane maker had canceled orders for dozens of aircraft after legal fight

LONDON—Airbus  SE agreed to revive orders for close to 75 aircraft from Qatar Airways after reaching a settlement with the Middle East airline over a long-running dispute about chipping paint on its A350 wide-body models.

A spokesman for Airbus said it would now go ahead with delivering 50 A321 narrow-bodies and 23 remaining A350 twin-aisles previously ordered by Qatar.

The orders had been scrapped as part of an escalating, multibillion-dollar legal battle over the paint issue, which the airline had claimed could pose a safety concern. Airbus repeatedly denied the claims.

Airbus and Qatar Airways earlier Wednesday said in a joint statement that they had reached an “amicable and mutually agreeable settlement” in relation to the legal dispute. The companies didn’t disclose the details of the settlement other than to say the agreement didn’t amount to an admission of liability from either party. A program to repair the degradation on Qatar’s current fleet is under way, the companies added.

Qatar Airways had previously grounded 29 of its A350 jets and refused new deliveries over the issue, reducing its capacity amid a surge in travel to Doha for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The airline has said the peeling paint was exposing the meshed copper foil that is designed to protect the aircraft from lightning strikes.

Excerpt from WSJ
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