Aerospace counterfeit parts are on the rise. Counterfeiting of goods, especially high value goods is not new. However, we tend to associate fakes with high end watches, clothes, and art work. Generally, counterfeit goods will have an economic impact. Either the buyer is duped into paying more for inferior goods, or the producer is prevented from making a reasonable profit. Counterfeiting in the Aerospace industry isn’t new, but its prevalence has been steadily increasing along with unapproved supply. 

Unapproved supply, can be more of a problem. The parts are genuine, but they are not backed by the correct warranty, and liability protection. Unapproved parts may even be stolen from approved suppliers, or they can be second hand parts that have been in service before – even end of life parts.

The largest problem is predicting the entry points to the supply chain. Managing this uncertainty has become more important due to the recent rise in the incidence of counterfeit reporting. We must reduce the entry and effects from counterfeit parts through increased diligence and active control measures. To accomplish this, it is necessary to have greater collaboration both within industry and with government.

Unfortunately, there are two types of consumers of counterfeit parts. The 99% of consumers who would be horrified to find they had bought a counterfeit part, and the 1% who actively purchase substandard counterfeit, or unapproved second hand parts to reduce their operating costs. There are lots of things we can do to prevent us buying counterfeit and unapproved parts, but the only way to deal with the 1% punitively, and with the harsher possible sanctions.

Preventing Aerospace Counterfeit Parts

To prevent counterfeit and unapproved supply entering your business, you should close your market as far as practicable. An approved supply chain that has been scrutinised correctly is a huge protection. Makes sure your suppliers are who they say, and supply what they say from approved sources.

Education can play a massive role – make sure that you train all of your staff to look out for anything suspicious,

  • Does the packaging look genuine?
  • Do the accompanying conformity documents look acceptable?
  • Is there any evidence to suggest the use of correction fluid?
  • Can it be verified that the results stated on the conformity documents (e.g. mill test report) match the buyer’s criteria?

Ultimately, if you have doubts about parts you have bought, quarantine them and call your regulator for advice. If this will create a delay to your customer, call them immediately and explain the situation. Although in the heat of battle they may be concerned about their delivery, they should be grateful that your diligence is protecting them.

Here are some further links that may be useful.

https://www.sc21.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2017/08/DON-Counterfeit-Materiel-Process-Guidebook_June17.pdf

https://www.aia-aerospace.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/counterfeit-web11.pdf