LONDON, U.K.: Jet engine maker CFM International said this week that thousands of engine components may have been sold with forged paperwork by a British distributor AOG Technics.
The outcomes of a probe into the falsely certified parts supplied by the London-based firm have reached the UK's High Court.
AOG Technics was involved in a "deliberate, dishonest and sophisticated scheme to deceive the market with falsified documents on an industrial scale," Matthew Reeve, lawyer for CFM and its co-owners General Electric and Safran.
European regulators also said they are investigating reports that some parts supplied by AOG without valid certificates had been found inside CFM56 engines, which power some Airbus and Boeing planes.
AOG was called to discuss procedural issues but has not responded to a request for comment.
In court filings, Reeve said that CFM and its engine partners have "compelling documentary evidence that thousands of jet engine parts have been sold by AOG to airlines operating commercial aircraft fitted with the claimants' jet engines."
Most spare parts sold by distributors, such as AOG, are small items not made by the engine makers themselves, and are not considered critical.
Reeve said that 86 falsified documents known as "release certificates" had been identified, and by Monday, the number of engines suspected to have parts with forged documents rose to 96.
"Potentially, that means between 48 and 96 aircraft being taken out of service whilst airlines arrange for the parts to be removed," Reeve added.
In a filing, CFM said, "The sale of parts with fake or missing release certificates potentially puts aircraft safety in jeopardy and makes it impossible to verify airworthiness."
They were first alerted to the alleged forgery by a Portuguese maintenance and repair company in June, causing a scramble to discover the extent of the issue, it added.
Lawyers representing AOG said it was "cooperating fully" with an investigation by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
CFM56 engines are used in the previous generation of Boeing 737s, about half the previous generation of Airbus A320s, and the Boeing P-8 maritime patrol planes sold to the U.S. and the UK.