Safran Waiting For More Operators To Report AOG Technics Parts, CEO Says

Southwest 737-800

Southwest Airlines is among carriers to have so far found AOG Technics parts in its CFM56 engines. 

Credit: Joe Pries

PARIS—Operators of the CFM56 engine are still investigating whether they have suspected unapproved parts in their fleet, thus making the extent of the problem largely unknown, Safran CEO Olivier Andries said Sept. 22.

CFM International and its co-owners GE Aerospace and Safran have been working with regulators since mid-June to unravel a tangled web of illegal-part sales by London-based AOG Technics. Thousands of second-hand parts are now deemed suspect after the broker provided forged documentation indicating a false origin and thus creating uncertainty about the airworthiness of the part. 

“Are the parts airworthy? We do not know,” said Andries, who was speaking during a meeting organized by AJPAE, the French association of aerospace journalists. “Where are the parts? It is up to the carriers to investigate.”

The FAA and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have required operators to survey those engines that went through maintenance operation and check if some parts were delivered by AOG Technics. If so, the engine should be removed from service. Thus far, 96 engines were identified as including suspect parts. 

“Every month, hundreds of CFM56 engines undergo maintenance in 30-40 workshops around the world,” Andries said. “If some carriers have not completed the identification work, I cannot know [whether more suspect parts are flying].”

“As far as I know, no life-limited part is affected,” Andries added. Some carriers, such as Southwest Airlines, have started removing engines.

The issue of documents counterfeited by AOG Technics is also impacting the fleet of GE Aerospace's CF6 turbofan. London’s High Court on Sept. 20 gave AOG Technics 14 days to produce documentation on the broker’s purchases and sales of CFM56 and CF6 parts. The ruling came in response to a suit filed by CFM, GE and Safran. A summary of the companies’ argument revealed that thousands of suspect parts have been linked to records by airlines and maintenance shops in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, North America and South America.

In new engine production, supply chain issues are persisting. They will last throughout this year and 2024, Andries predicted. Problems can be found especially in forging and casting activities facilities.

In raw materials, tensions remain, particularly in titanium and steel. “This is a consequence of the war in Ukraine,” Andries said. “Supply cannot meet demand. Along with energy prices, it is a source of inflation—a shockwave that is propagating downstream the supply chain.”

On the plus side, the supply of electronic components has returned to normal, he added.

Safran is aligned with Boeing's goal to ramp up production to at least 50 737 MAX every month by late 2024 or early 2025, Andries confirmed. Safran is also supporting Airbus' ramp-up to 65 A320neo family in the same timeframe.

Thierry Dubois

Thierry Dubois has specialized in aerospace journalism since 1997. An engineer in fluid dynamics from Toulouse-based Enseeiht, he covers the French commercial aviation, defense and space industries. His expertise extends to all things technology in Europe. Thierry is also the editor-in-chief of Aviation Week’s ShowNews.