LONDON - British fraud authorities have raided the home of the director at the centre of a global scandal over bogus airplane parts and arrested him for suspected fraud.
The Serious Fraud Office arrested Jose Alejandro Zamora Yrala, the director of AOG Technics Ltd, at his home address on the outskirts of London on Wednesday. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is working alongside the Civil Aviation Authority on the investigation. The agency did not identify Zamora as the individual arrested.
AOG is alleged to have sold parts backed by false documents to fix jet engines around the globe.
The investigation “involves the supply of parts to airlines not just in this country but in other countries as well which obviously raises concerns”, SFO director Nick Ephgrave said in an interview at its London headquarters.
“We are now going through front doors, making arrests, and seizing properties. So that is very rapid progress, particularly for the SFO because our cases often necessarily take a long while,” he said.
The aviation industry’s hard-earned reputation for safety has been dented by concerns that engine parts may have been sold with false documentation and fitted onto jetliners around the world.
The scandal, first reported by Bloomberg, has sent airlines across the world scrambling to inspect their fleets for so-called suspected unapproved parts.
All the major US carriers, along with Ryanair and Norwegian Air Shuttle are among the operators that are investigating engine parts and associated documentation. Airlines have had to pull aircraft out of service as part of the investigations.
The issue appears to concern CFM56 turbines, which power older-generation Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 jets. They remain by far the most widely flown engines in the global airline fleet, with more than 22,000 units still in service. A CFM56-powered aircraft takes off every two seconds somewhere on the planet.