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  1. Black Market: Counterfeit Aircraft Parts $2 Billion

News and statistics about the black market in fake airplane parts and counterfeit aircraft parts. Data about the substandard parts are collected from security agencies, government safety officials and other public information sources.

A United States Senate investigation in 2011 found about 1,800 incidents of counterfeit electronic parts being sold to the U.S. military. The incidents involved over 1 million counterfeit parts.70 percent of the counterfeit items were traced back to China.

The counterfeit parts were used on aircraft like the Air Force’s C-17 transport airplane and the CH-46 helicopter, as well as weapons systems such as the Army’s Theater High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system.

Source: Associated Press, “Lawmakers: Counterfeit electronics flood Pentagon supply,” USA Today, November 7, 2011.

According to a statement by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, counterfeit aircraft parts are causing a 5 to 15 percent decrease in the reliability of the United States military weapons systems.

Source: “SCHUMER: COUNTERFEITING OF MILITARY TECHNOLOGY IS PUTTING TROOPS LIVES AT RISK AND COULD THREATEN SYRACUSE COMPANIES LIKE LOCKHEED, SRC, SENSIS, & C SPEED – SCHUMER PUSHES LEGISLATION TO CRACKDOWN ON MAKERS OF FAKE MILITARY PARTS,” U.S. Sentate, July 25, 2011.

According to a statement by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, the number of counterfeit electronics used by the military increased by 250 percent between 2005 and 2008.

In 2010, the United States Navy alone purchased 59,000 counterfeit microchips for missiles, transponders and other military equipment that originated from China.

Source: “SCHUMER: COUNTERFEITING OF MILITARY TECHNOLOGY IS PUTTING TROOPS LIVES AT RISK AND COULD THREATEN SYRACUSE COMPANIES LIKE LOCKHEED, SRC, SENSIS, & C SPEED – SCHUMER PUSHES LEGISLATION TO CRACKDOWN ON MAKERS OF FAKE MILITARY PARTS,” U.S. Sentate, July 25, 2011.

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized $4 Million worth of counterfeit electronic components in Fiscal Year 2009.

The counterfeited products were considered critical components used for defense systems and aircraft system, according to a press release by the Aerospace Industries Association.

Source: AIA, “AIA Issues Report on Counterfeit Parts and Threat to the Supply Chain,” PR Newswire, Press Release, March 16, 2011.

A Ministry of Transportation investigation of  60,000 aircraft parts found 14,500 parts to be counterfeit in Russia.

19 criminal charges and over 300 misdemeanor charges were brought by Federal authorities against counterfeit airplane importers in 2009 and 2010.

Source:  Jelena Jankovic, “Counterfeit Airplane Parts Jeopardize Flight Safety in Russia,” Petosevic, November 29, 2010.

In 2005, the US Commerce Department found 3,868 incidents of counterfeit electronic goods in the US Military. The majority of the incidents involved counterfeit computer chips that are used on fighter jets and airplanes.

In 2008, the number of counterfeit electronic incidents increased to 9,356.

Source: Steve Johnson, “Fake chips threaten military,” San Jose Mercury News, September 5, 2010.

Counterfeit pilot licenses and examination results are available for purchase on the black market in the Philippines for prices between $30,000 to $50,000.

(Additional items sold on the black market.)

 Source: Eric Apolonio, “CAAP takes on counterfeit pilot licenses,” Manila Standard Today, July 7, 2010.

Between May 1973 and April 1996, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) identified 174 aircraft crashes or less serious accidents in the United States due to unauthorized aircraft parts that included counterfeited products.  Although none involved a major commercial airline, the accidents caused 17 deaths and 39 injuries.

Source:  Jim Clark, “New Technology Could Protect Against Parts Counterfeiting,” Aviation Maintenance Magazine, January 1, 2009.

The acting administrator of NASA told Congress that counterfeit parts ending up on spaceships are part of the reason why costs has spiraled out of control.  Christopher Scolese stated that NASA has been dealing with the issue of counterfeit parts “for years” and that the problem has been growing over the years.

He highlighted one incident where a counterfeit part was found on the Kepler spacecraft, an unmanned probe that is to explore the Milky Way Galaxy.

Source: Stewart M. Powell, “NASA official says counterfeit parts a growing problem,” Houston Chronicle, March 5, 2009.

Counterfeit Aircraft Parts is the unauthorized duplication and distribution of airplane parts.

According to a 2001 publication produced by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, “as much as $2 billion in unapproved parts are now sitting on the shelves of parts distributors, airline, and repair stations.”

Source: Ann Parker, ” Lasershot Makes Its Mark,”
Science & Technology Review, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, September 2001,
(accessed: February 14, 2007).

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