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Home > Air Safety > Is there any possibility that inferior parts are being used in planes?
Is there any possibility that inferior parts are being used in planes?
Aviation - Air Safety
Thursday, 02 January 2014 08:25

Counterfeit parts in military equipment like planes

Dear Captain Lim,

I have just finished reading your book. May I say that it is very well written and it answers most of the common questions. I fly almost every week though most flights lasts 5 hours or less, I must confess that I’ve never really felt comfortable during take offs and landings. Your book has put my mind greatly at ease.

Anyway, my question is, with corruption, kickbacks, cronyism, etc. being so prevalent these days (I’m not pointing at any particular country or airline), is there any possibility that inferior parts being used or extended lifespan of parts due for replacements?

Also, I was on a flight where a passenger noticed that a window was cracked, and we had to disembark and change to another plane. If the engineers or personnel are so meticulous in checking the integrity of the plane's air worthiness, why did they miss that? And if a cracked window is inconsequential, why change planes?

I don't mean to sound cynical, I greatly respect the aviation industry personnel that have thousands of life depending on them day in day out.

Thank you.

Stephen,

Hi Stephen,

I first remember reading a book by Mary Schiavo ‘Flying Blind, Flying Safe’ who wrote about use of inferior parts on planes. Well, it is a fact that counterfeit aircraft parts are sometimes used on commercial airliners because of suppliers' greed and poor Government enforcement.

In 1989, a Norwegian charter Convair 580 airliner crashed while flying from Oslo to Hamburg, Germany due to use of inferior parts. Such parts were cheaper and that may be the reason why the company resorted to the practise because it was in financial difficulties

FAA study concluded that unapproved parts prior to 1996 had contributed to 174 aircraft accidents and minor incidents which did not involve major commercial airlines.

Thankfully, use of inferior parts is mostly found in less reputed chartered airlines and where the enforcement agencies are questionable.

Today, in my opinion, no reputed airlines will resort to this practices as any accidents attributed to such causes will surely make passengers avoid the airlines like the plague!

So my advice is to avoid less reputed airlines in financial difficulties and fly only in established airlines.

Regarding passenger window cracks, it is always prudent for the airlines to change the plane for more thorough checks and to reduce further delays. However meticulous an engineer may be, there is always the question of human error.

A cracked window may be inconsequential but I am not aware of your situation or predicament. Perhaps the airlines may have good reasons to change plane. Yes, one has to look at the bigger picture.

PS. If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here) and you can purchase a copy here . To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim 



Air Chathams Convair 580 Operations


Air Chathams Convair 580 flight from the cockpit

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