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New evidence suggests some titanium on Boeing and Airbus planes might be fake

According to information provided to the FAA from Boeing, the documentation from a subcontractor for some of the titanium used on some Boeing and Airbus planes might be faked, suggesting that the titanium is fake as well.

Boeing discovered this possibility when one of its suppliers discovered holes in some metal pieces due to corrosion.

Apparently, Italian parts supplier Titanium International Group found small holes in titanium in December 2023, and also raised suspicions about the authenticity of documentation. It notified Spirit AeroSystems of the issue, which in turn informed Airbus and Boeing in January 2024. According to three anonymous sources close to the matter, affected planes include those built between 2019 and 2023 and involve the Boeing 737 MAX, 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A220 programs.

…The problem has been traced back to a Chinese supplier that sold titanium to Turkish company Turkish Aerospace Industries in 2019. Documentation from this Chinese supplier claimed that the titanium had been sourced from another Chinese firm, Baoji Titanium Industry – however, Baoji Titanium has confirmed that it did not provide this batch of titanium “and has no business dealing with this company.” [emphasis in original]

In other words, no one has any idea where that first Chinese supplier got the titanium, because its documentation was false.

Both Airbus and Boeing have done numerous tests and found no problems, though both have said they will remove any suspect parts. Spirit meanwhile has removed all the suspect parts, even though tests suggested the parts were “of sufficient quality for the aerospace industry.”

The real story here is not that these parts are unsafe (they apparently are not). The real story is the dependence by these airplane companies on so many subcontractors, some of which are subcontractors of subcontractors of subcontractors and also come from a hostile power. It leaves them all very vulnerable to others’ mistakes or malfeasance. During the Cold War it would have been inconceivable to rely on Soviet-built parts. Yet, today American airlines routine rely on Chinese companies when the Chinese government has made it clear it sees us as an enemy to be defeated.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

13 comments

  • Jay

    A lot of titanium is used in the jet engines, more than the “Heat shields protecting a component connecting engines to the airframe on the 737 MAX and A220” mentioned in that article. I hope a lot of heads roll in their quality control departments because of this.

  • Mark Sizer

    During the Cold War it would have been inconceivable to rely on Soviet-built parts.

    Definitely not the same situation, but pedantically: The Air Force was buying vacuum tubes from Yugoslavia because no one else made them any longer.

  • cloudy

    It was assumed that the government of China would evolve over time to something like an “intraparty democracy” supported by at least some basic liberties governed by the rule of law. For a while, they did make progress in that direction. Now that has changed. Most of us recognize that now. The trouble is, it is hard to reverse our previous policies. . Economically, we are married. Divorce is possible but it isn’t easy. How and when to do it is up for debate. It is important to realize that hindsight is 20/20. We didn’t know 30 years ago what would happen and we still don’t know what would have happened if we took a different course.

  • wayne

    “I’m Shocked….”
    Casablanca
    https://youtu.be/vxnpY0owPkA?t=14

  • pzatchok

    Cloudy

    We knew full well what would happen when we gave China favored nation trade status.

    It was the beginning move of the left to equalize the world.
    They want to make all nations economically equal, even if it just means to drag down the leading nations.
    They had the wrong idea that communism and dictatorships only failed because they did not have the economy of the western nations. They assumed that Europes and Americas economy was fully due to theft on our part.
    Our economy is based on human greed. Our forefathers knew this and found a way to harness that energy. By allowing private ownership of land and their resources. That is what started it all. The personal greed of the land owners and their better and better extraction of wealth from that same land.

    What didn’t the Soviet union allow. Private ownership of anything. The same with China.

    Giving both of then favored trade status just gave them the ability to under bid our labor pool and exploit our greed for their profit.
    Now China is planning on not buying food from us but instead they bought out the farm land and plan on hiring Chinese illegals to work it for cheap. Sending all the food back to China. Or selling it us at inflated prices.
    I knew years ago that China’s real goal was not to raise its people out of poverty but to economically take over the USA.
    China does not have enough land to feed all of its people at the same level America does.

    Years ago when China made its first efforts to become more like the west economically they gave all the land they could to the farmers working it(one or two acres at a time). Under the agreement that if it was not productive for two years in a row it would go back to the government to be handed back out to new farmers. The farms could not be sold traded or used in any way other than as farms. The resources under the ground are the property of the state.
    Any large farms you see in China are party member owned.

    A worker is not allowed to move to another province(state) to work without party approval first.(sounds like slavery) Your owned by the state you live in.

    Chinese economic wealth is a phantom that will collapse inside the next 20 years. Or they will become a modern Democracy or fall to a bloody revolution.

    Russia is closer to that revolution than people think.

  • Mitch S.

    “During the Cold War it would have been inconceivable to rely on Soviet-built parts. ”

    Well yes, wouldn’t let the Soviets build the parts, but the titanium for the A-12/SR-71 spyplanes was sourced from the Soviet Union.
    The Soviets didn’t know that was where the titanium was going – the CIA made the arrangements.

    In this instance the article indicates the supplier of the titanium supplied fake materiel, not fabricated parts.
    I would think whoever did work the metal into parts would notice it did not behave like the specified alloy.
    I’m sure Lockheed checked that Soviet titanium before making Blackbird parts out of it!

  • wayne

    pzatchok-
    in their lingo, they just expropriate the excess labor value, from everyone, and concentrate it all into the Party.

    Our Friend Titanium…

    Titanium:
    The Armstrong Method
    https://youtu.be/73HLzYuIfx0
    1:47

    Titanium:
    The Kroll Method
    https://youtu.be/oWyrzZh3We0
    4:58

  • John H.

    The DoD requires specialty metals (like titanium) be sourced from a domestic or DFARS approved source. This requires the metal to be MELTED domestically or in a DFARS country. This requirement certainly drives up cost but it establishes a manufacturing base for these metals in allied countries while simultaneously mitigating the risk of counterfeit material.

    https://www.onlinemetals.com/en/dfars-domestic-materials

    https://www.acquisition.gov/dfars/252.225-7009-restriction-acquisition-certain-articles-containing-specialty-metals.

  • David Ross

    If the fake titanium is doing the job but cheaper, due credit to those making those parts. Why not keep using those parts. That much is an engineering “W”.
    The real L is accountability. The cheaper-but-good-enough parts don’t have a chain-of-custody. How does anyone know which parts are doing the job, and which parts will open unwanted doors into nothing at 10km alt.

  • An engineering speciation is an engineering specification, and it exists for a reason.

  • Jeff Wright

    I once worked at ADIENT in Clanton, Alabama.
    Their welding robots had problems with China steel going from the scuttlebutt.

  • Max

    You know what else is fake? Apparently most of the science of the last few years. (more proof that Zimmerman is right to be skeptical of science)

    “It’s yet another reminder of why blindly ‘trusting the science’ may not always be the best go-to move in the future.”
    “217 year old Wiley science publisher has reportedly “peer reviewed” more than 11,000 papers that were determined to be fake without ever noticing. The papers were referred to as “naked gobbledygook sandwiches”, Australian blogger Jo Nova wrote on her blog last week.”

    “It’s not just a scam, it’s an industry,” she said. “Who knew, academic journals were a $30 billion dollar industry?”
    https://kleanindustries.com/resources/market-analysis-research/trust-the-science-that-just-retracted-11-000-peer-reviewed-papers/

  • Whitehall

    It could have been titanium but not the RIGHT titanium. There are various grades for various applications. I’m sure that some grades cost more than others hence the incentive to cheat.

    Equipment fabricators buy materials based on supplier certifications that are contract requirements but those certs can be and have been falsified. In the US, it can be a criminal offense.

    I’ve seen it in the nuclear business too many times. And yes, it often goes back to China.

    My latest experience was the fiber optic cable that was supposed to be made in the UK and to be radiation-resistant – it was neither. We had to pull and replace miles of in our nuclear power station.

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