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FAA probing suspect titanium parts used in some Boeing and Airbus jets

FAA probes suspect titanium, and other headlines
FAA investigates possible use of counterfeit titanium in planes, and other top headlines 02:11

Federal transportation officials are investigating how titanium sold with phony documentation made its way into parts used in making Boeing and Airbus planes. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and Spirit AeroSystems, a supplier of fuselages to Boeing and wings for Airbus, said Friday they are each investigating the scope and impact of the issue, which could raise potential concerns about aircraft safety. First reported by the New York Times, the problem came to light after a parts supplier found tiny holes from corrosion in the titanium, according to the newspaper.

"Boeing reported a voluntary disclosure to the FAA regarding procurement of material through a distributor who may have falsified or provided incorrect records," the agency said in a statement. "Boeing issued a bulletin outlining ways suppliers should remain alert to the potential of falsified records."

Spirit said it is working to determine the origin of the titanium and that it removed the affected parts from the company's production line for testing. 

"This is about titanium that has entered the supply system via documents that have been counterfeited," Spirit spokesperson Joe Buccino said in a statement. "When this was identified, all suspect parts were quarantined and removed from Spirit production. More than 1,000 tests have been completed to confirm the mechanical and metallurgical properties of the affected material to ensure continued airworthiness."

Planes with parts containing the suspect material were made between 2019 and 2023, and include some Boeing 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner airliners as well as Airbus A220 jets, according to the Times, which cited three people familiar with the matter. An employee at a Chinese company that sold the titanium had forged information on documents certifying the origin of the material, and where it came from remains murky, according the Times' sources.

FAA gives update on Boeing's plans to fix safety and quality problems 11:14

Boeing said its tests of the materials in question had not yielded any evidence of a problem. The issue affects a small number of parts on Boeing airplanes, according to the aircraft manufacturer. Boeing said it buys most of the titanium it uses in aircraft production directly, and that supply is not impacted. 

"This industrywide issue affects some shipments of titanium received by a limited set of suppliers, and tests performed to date have indicated that the correct titanium alloy was used. To ensure compliance, we are removing any affected parts on airplanes prior to delivery. Our analysis shows the in-service fleet can continue to fly safely."

Airbus said it was aware of the issue and that numerous tests had been performed on parts from the same supplier. "They show that the A220's airworthiness remains intact," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "The safety and quality of our aircraft are our most important priorities. and we are working in close collaboration with our supplier."

The development comes after a slew of safety issues for the aviation industry this year, including an alarming in-flight incident in January in which a door panel blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9 jet operated by Alaska Airlines. 

Boeing in April also informed the FAA about another incident involving potentially falsified inspection records related to the wings of 787 Dreamliner planes, saying it would need to reinspect some planes still in production. 

—CBS News' Kathryn Krupnik and Kevin McCarron contributed to this report.

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