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More Counterfeit Parts in the Supply Chain

ARLINGTON, Va. — The volume of counterfeit parts in the supply chain is increasing, necessitating that mitigation plans be developed and implemented, according to a new report by AIA.

“The use of counterfeit parts in the aerospace industry may have life or death consequences,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. “Reducing their proliferation and potentially harmful effects requires increased diligence and active control measures from both industry and government.”

While the prevalence of counterfeit parts in the supply chain is difficult to quantify, in fiscal 2009, the Customs and Border Protection Service seized nearly $4 million in counterfeit critical technology components, including networking equipment and semiconductor devices that the aerospace industry uses. Counterfeit Parts: Increasing Awareness and Developing Countermeasures, seeks to raise awareness of the issues associated with counterfeit parts.

“Regardless of how counterfeit parts enter the aerospace and defense supply chain, the ramifications can be significant,” said Blakey. “They can jeopardize the performance, reliability and safety of our products.”

While profit is the primary incentive for counterfeiting, the long lifecycle of aerospace products also contributes to conditions that make aerospace and defense equipment susceptible to counterfeiting. Aircraft developed in the 1950s, such as the B-52, are still in active inventory while parts from original equipment, component manufacturers or authorized aftermarket manufacturers or distributors may no longer be available.

The report has more than 20 recommendations for industry and government that encourage further discussion among stakeholders on how to most effectively reduce counterfeit parts in the supply chain. The recommendations were prepared by AIA's Counterfeit Parts-Integrated Project Team and include:

  • Scrutinize the purchasing process to limit the use of automated systems, which increases the risk of counterfeit products.
  • Develop an Approved Suppliers list for use by government and industry.
  • Conduct training for employees in the areas of procurement, detection, reporting and disposition of counterfeit parts.
  • Create standards in the area of mechanical parts and materials. “Our industry makes the best aerospace products available and has an unsurpassed safety record,” said Blakey. “We feel the recommendations will allow industry and government to address the issue before it threatens that record.” The report is available on AIA's website at:
  • 2 comments on “More Counterfeit Parts in the Supply Chain

    1. DataCrunch
      March 21, 2011

      It seems that every industry in susceptible to counterfeiting within their supply chain network, even the defense industry.  The ramifications of counterfeiting in this industry could have lethal consequences.  I am surprised that the recommendations did not call for more track and trace asset tracking technology and I was also surprised that this industry does not have an “Approved Suppliers list for use by government and industry” , as one of the recommendations states.

    2. Todd Ballew
      March 21, 2011

      The need for strict procurement processes is incredibly important.  An approved supplier list seems pretty basic in developing a reliable supply chain.  The Department of Defense, as well as the Department of Commerce has established a qualification list for their suppliers for both specialty hardware such as fasteners, rivets, brackets, etc. and for electronic components.  The DoD uses a classification of QSLD (Qualified Supply List Distributor).  To receive this certification, a distributor must have successfully completed a rigorous on-site business and quality audit that includes a full review of all processing used in the supply chain.  Buying from a QSLD certified supplier who can also provide tractability will create a tight control against counterfeits.  As rightly stated, many military requirements use very old parts and the availability of trace docs can be impossible,  Only a supplier with full testing facility including x-ray, decapsulation equipment, etc., along with trained staff to do the testing will be able to assist aerospace and defense customers when the “active” parts are non-existent.

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