FAA investigates titanium parts, falsified docs in Boeing Airbus planes

The titanium came from a supplier in China starting around 2019

An Airbus A220 lands at Toulouse-Blagnac airport. Federal regulators have investigated Boeing and Airbus passenger jets with counterfeit titanium. (Frederic Scheiber / AP Photo)

Federal regulators are investigating how parts made with titanium sold with falsified quality documentation ended up in Boeing and Airbus passenger jets.

Boeing and Airbus said Friday that planes containing the parts are safe to fly, but Boeing said it was removing affected parts that haven’t been delivered to airline customers yet.


Regulators will decide whether any work must be done to planes already carrying passengers. The FAA said it is “investigating the impact of the issue.” Boeing reported the problem covering material from a distributor “who may have falsified or provided incorrect records.” The FAA did not name the distributor.

Spirit AeroSystems, which makes fuselages for Boeing planes and wings for Airbus jets, reported the falsified documents.

“This is about titanium that has entered the supply system via documents that have been counterfeited,” Spirit spokesperson Joe Buccino said. “When this was identified, all suspect parts were quarantined and removed from Spirit production. Buccino said more than 1,000 tests have been conducted on the material “to ensure continued airworthiness.”

The New York Times reported that an Italian company, Titanium International Group, noticed that the material looked different from previous supplies and determined that the paperwork accompanying the titanium seemed inauthentic.

The paperwork, called a statement of conformity, describes the part or material, how it was made and where it originated. Its design ensures that parts comply with FAA standards for quality.

Titanium alloys have been used for decades in aircraft production because of their light weight, strength, corrosion resistance and high temperatures. They are used in airframes, landing gear and other parts.

Boeing said tests indicate the parts were made from the correct titanium alloy, which raised questions about why the documentation was falsified. Based in Arlington, Virginia, the company said it buys most of the titanium it uses directly from other sources, and that supply is not affected by the documentation issue.

Boeing said it removed affected parts on planes before delivering them to airlines. “Our analysis shows the in-service fleet can continue to fly safely,” the company said. It did not say which of its aircraft models were affected.

“Numerous tests have been performed on parts coming from the same source of supply,” said Airbus, its main offices and assembly plant in France. “They show that the A220’s airworthiness remains intact.”

Officials said the affected parts could be replaced when planes undergo scheduled maintenance checks.