Florida men admit selling falsified aircraft parts

Two former employees of aviation parts distribution company Sofly  have pleaded guilty to conspiring to sell and export aircraft parts with counterfeit airworthiness approval tags.

Florida residents Daniel Navarro (50), previously vice president of Sofly and former procurement and asset management specialist Jorge Guerrero (71) both admitted one count of conspiracy to defraud the US, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

According to court records, beginning in 2012 and continuing into 2019, Navarro and Guerrero purchased “as removed” aircraft parts and resold them using certificates that falsely claimed the parts to be airworthy under the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The fraudulent approval tags represented those “as removed” parts to be overhauled, tested/inspected or repaired, which misled their buyers – which included Canadian airlines and a US Department of Defense (DoD) contractor – into believing them to be airworthy, according to the DoJ.

Most often, Navarro and Guerrero would use an FAA-approved repair station’s FAA certificate number to falsely certify the part to have been overhauled, tested/inspected or repaired by that repair station, when in fact they never were.

“Falsifying the airworthiness of aircraft parts poses a significant danger to the public and our service members,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Darrin Jones, of the DOD’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS.

“These guilty pleas demonstrate our commitment to root out corruption and bringing to justice those who compromise the safety and readiness of aircraft for personal gain.”

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Navarro and Guerrero on May 23 before US District Judge Federico Moreno in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida. They each face a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, followed by a term of supervised release of up to three years, as well as a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution.

Last year, the aviation sector was rocked by the revelation that UK-based supplier AOG Technics had sold parts for the CFM56 engine used in Airbus and Boeing planes with forged documents. An investigation suggested that less than 1% of CFM engines were affected, and the falsification generally involved non-serialized parts like bolts, washers, and bushings.

Last month, companies across the aerospace industry in the US and Europe formed a coalition to help prevent unauthorised parts from entering the aviation supply chain and to strengthen the supply chain’s overall integrity.

Founding members include Airbus, American Airlines, Boeing, Delta Air Lines, GE Aerospace, Safran, StandardAero and United Airlines.

“We were able to stop a rogue actor and quarantine the parts last year thanks to swift action from the aviation industry, but more is needed to stop anyone who tries to take a shortcut in the future,” said coalition co-chair Robert Sumwalt, former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman.

According to a recent article in the British Journal of Criminology, as much as 10 per cent of the legal market for aircraft parts are counterfeits and the presence of these parts on commercial aircraft is “more commonplace than many people realise.” Fake parts raise the risk of component failure, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top