Two Virgin aircraft pulled from flying due to unauthorised engine parts

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Two Virgin Australia aircraft have been temporarily pulled from service after the airline became aware their engines were fitted with unauthorised parts.

Virgin confirmed on Monday the affected aircraft were part of its fleet of Boeing 737-800s, which fly most of its domestic services between destinations including Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

One of Virgin’s 737-800 aircraft.Credit: Bloomberg

The airline became aware of the issues after being notified of falsified certification documents for aircraft parts which came from UK-based supplier AOG Technics, as first reported by Bloomberg.

AOG supplies engine parts that power many Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, two of the most common types of commercial aircraft in the world.

A low-pressure turbine blade on VH-VUT, a Boeing 737-800, was replaced last week after the airline was notified of the false documents.

Although the airline originally thought VH-VUT was the only aircraft affected, this masthead has confirmed that Virgin uncovered a second unauthorised part on another 737-800 aircraft over the weekend.

An unauthorised seal on an inner high-pressure turbine nozzle on VH-YFR is being replaced. This aircraft remains in maintenance in Brisbane, where the part is being removed.

A Virgin spokesperson said safety was the airline’s highest priority.

“We apply a highly stringent approach to maintenance to ensure our safety standard is upheld,” the spokesperson said.

Virgin is the latest airline to become embroiled in the false-certification scandal, which has plagued AOG Technics in recent months.

US carrier Southwest Airlines said it had removed two suspect parts from a Boeing 737 this month.

The world’s biggest jet engine manufacturer, CFM International, launched legal action against AOG in the UK this month after uncovering that 68 of its aircraft engines were allegedly fitted with falsely certified components.

CFM is a joint venture between General Electric Aerospace and Safran. The business alleges it became aware of fraudulent parts with 50 different part numbers on its CFM56 engine – which powers older Airbus A320s and Boeing 737 NGs – in July.

The AOG documentation indicates the parts were new, but CFM alleges its technicians have said they are clearly used. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has since determined the parts were supplied with a falsified authorisation release certificate, which is the document which determines whether a part is safe to fly.

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