Fake aircraft parts dealers arrested in Russia
The six men are either former or current employees of Russia's biggest jet-engine maker – the Saturn aviation plant near Yaroslavl. They were arrested as they allegedly attempted to sell counterfeit products worth more than $ US 140,000.
“The men have been stealing components from the Saturn aviation plant, which they then used to manufacture spare parts for planes. They placed identification numbers on them and produced fake documents to sell them,” explained Ruslan Shihmagomedov from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The gang are accused of using the stolen components to make engine parts for TU-154 passenger jets and IL-76 cargo planes. Authorities say over the past three years counterfeit parts have been sold through a chain of middlemen to Russian and foreign airlines. But they have yet to establish which airlines purchased them.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, Russia has one of the worst flight safety records in the world.
“Previously-used parts are often refurbished, repackaged, and sold to other airlines. People are ready to do just about anything for money. But they forget that there are people who fly on these planes – friends, relatives, those close to us,” noted Magomed Toboev, flight expert.
Prosecutors and government officials are now turning the spotlight onto the state of Russia's aviation industry after a high number of domestic crashes last year.
Aviation experts say the sale of such counterfeit products poses a serious threat to air passengers. And they are calling for tighter control on the supply of plane parts.
Meanwhile, a criminal investigation is being held, with police trying to track down other counterfeit parts and destroy them.