January 12, 2020 YPB Marketing

Fake airplane parts are soaring to new heights

While the ‘epidemic’ of fake aircraft parts has largely only been talked about within the aviation industry, more passengers will soon become aware as the problem grows – can your brand confidently claim to customers that your supply chain is 100% fake free?

Australians call them ‘bogus parts’; the Americans use the term ‘suspected unapproved parts’, or SUPs for short. Whatever name you use, it’s a terrifying prospect that counterfeit parts are currently on airplanes flying around the world.

In 2018, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed that 3,000 SUPs had been discovered since 2011. In fact, in 2016, another arm of the US federal government found that ‘unapproved parts’ had played a role in nearly two dozen airplane crashes in the US since 2010, resulting in seven deaths and 18 injuries.

Largely self-regulated, the global aviation industry prides itself on being the safest mode of transport in the world. The industry is committed to the safety of their passengers – it simply makes good business sense. But, that means that when fake aircraft parts do find their way into a supply chain, manufacturers and airlines are reluctant to report it – the reputational risk is too high. And, so, the true scale of the problem is largely unknown.

An emerging ‘pandemic’

Of course, it’s not just commercial aircraft that are the target of counterfeiters – the military arms of most governments are as well. Recently, a representative from the Aircraft Airworthiness and Sustainment (Australia) Conference explained in a conference paper that the counterfeit parts problem in the US military has been described variously as an ‘epidemic’, ‘plague’ and ‘pandemic’ and the cost of fake parts is roughly US $6 billion a year.

Like most industries in the past 20 years, the aviation industry is relying more and more on emerging economies like China to supply parts to build and maintain their airplanes. Reuters reported that China’s exports of aircraft parts to the US had tripled to US $1.2 billion from 2009 to 2017.

But, the globalisation of airplane parts has made supply chain traceability a lot harder. In 2017, a whistle blower from Moog, a Chinese supplier of US flight control systems, reported to the FAA that one of Moog’s suppliers had faked certificates, outsourced work to non-accredited contractors and used substitute materials without Moog’s knowledge. The FAA’s investigation confirmed that 273 affected parts were installed in an unknown number of Boeing 777 wing spoilers, setting off an alarm in the industry.

Plus, just recently, in October 2019, South African Airways came under intense scrutiny around claims internal corruption had led to the use of ‘suspect parts’ in its planes. Just like the source of fake parts, this problem is not limited to one region, manufacturer or airline and is likely to get worse in the coming decade.

An invisible solution
With lives at risk, and businesses needing to reassure customers of the safety of their planes, effective anti-counterfeiting solutions are no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a necessity. Traceability, transparency and authenticity are paramount for those supplying and receiving aircraft parts along the entire supply chain.

YPB is a member of the CTAAC (China Trade Association for anti-counterfeiting) and the CSPIA (China Security & Protection Industry Association) and holds a Production License issued by AQSIQ (China’s Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine). YPB’s tracer is Patent protected and we are the only licensed Company in China that manufactures and sells invisible tracers.

Our micro particle technology, MotifMicro, is an invisible tracer that cannot be faked, reproduced and is commercially scalable.

Scannable by any smartphone, data such as date of manufacture of an aircraft part, installation history, and even maintenance records can all be stored in the covert tracer. YPB’s Connect Platform can then be accessed by users to quickly see the data for tens of thousands of parts in real time. Supply chain management and world-leading anti-counterfeiting technology is rolled up into one hidden, and effective, package.If you make, receive or install aircraft parts you need to ensure the integrity of your supply chain – contact YPB today to learn more about our industry-leading technology.