UK airlines on red alert as London firm AOG Technics Ltd accused of selling fake turbines - and using made-up LinkedIn profiles
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The British airline industry has been placed on a red alert after a London company has been accused of selling fake turbines, nuts and bolts with fraudulent safety certificates. The scandal has caused airlines in the US to be pulled and it has been confirmed that some parts sourced from the fraudster company have been fitted to UK aircraft.
The company accused and being investigated by regulators is called AOG Technics. Alongside supplying fake parts for jet engines to airlines, the company has also been found to have promoted the business with fake LinkedIn profiles and lied about having a ‘virtual’ office in central London just a few minutes walk from Buckingham Palace.
The location it provided takes you to a luxury office black - but in reality AOG Technics had no physical presence there whatsoever. LinkedIn profiles for staff who seemingly work at AOG Technics include stock images which appear elsewhere on the internet, and many of these accounts have now been deleted.
According to the MailOnline one profile was for a man named Ray Kwong, who was listed as the company’s chief commercial officer. His listed previous experience included Mitsubishi and Nissan, but neither has been able to confirm he was employed with them. His photo also showed a gray-haired man in a smart shirt with a striped blue tie but this same image appears on other webpages.
AOG Technics has supplied parts that have been used in at least 126 commercial aircraft engines in planes operated by companies including Delta and United. US airlines including American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines have already pulled planes due to the scandal.
While the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed some parts sourced from AOG Technics are on engines fitted to UK aircraft. It has warned all UK companies to investigate their records thoroughly to check the source of aircraft parts.
A spokesperson from the CAA told Mail Online: “We can confirm that we are one of a number of organisations looking into this, but we are unable to comment further on ongoing investigations.”
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency confirmed that when they investigated each of the false safety forms provided by AOG, manufacturers said “’the certificate has been falsified”. It added: “To date, AOG Technics has not provided information on the source of the parts or of the falsified safety forms.”
The scandal raises serious questions about industry procedures which have allowed unapproved parts to make their way into aircraft. The parts were used in CFM56 engines, the world’s best selling jet engine, used in planes including Airbus A320 models and the Boeing 737.
Jet engine maker CFM International, which has been affected by the scandal, has filed a lawsuit in the UK against AOG Technic. The firm revealed last month that thousands of engine components may have been sold with forged paperwork by AOG Technics.
It has taken AOG Technic’s sole director, Jose Zamora Yrala, to court to force them to hand over documents related to any remaining parts and paperwork linked to CFM56 and CF6 engines since February 2015. Matthew Reeve, a lawyer for CFM and its co-owners General Electric and Safran, said CFM and its engine partners have “compelling documentary evidence that thousands of jet engine parts have been sold by (AOG) to airlines operating commercial aircraft fitted with the claimants’ jet engines’”
AOG did not address the underlying claim of forgery in the hearing. While the lawyers representing AOG and Zamora Yrala said the defendants were “co-operating fully” with the investigation by the CAA.
Judge Richard Meade ruled that AOG and Zamora Yrala should disclose “invoices, release certificates, memos of shipment and purchase orders” for 230 transactions.
CFM56 engines are used on Boeing P-8 maritime patrol planes sold to the United States and the UK, while the GE-built CF6 powers Boeing KC-767A tankers are also sold to Italy and Japan. However, there have been no reports of suspect parts on military aircraft.
AOG Technics was started in the UK in 2015 by Jose Alejandro Zamora Yrala, who is believed to be a 35-year-old from Venezuela. He has not commented on the scandal.