Private Jet Spare Parts

Spare parts keep your private jet in the air, but they also can pave the road to destruction for you, your crew and your guests if they do not meet safety standards.

Counterfeit aircraft parts are big business, so finding the right parts and suppliers to keep your jet safe relies on the expertise of professionals who can discern the difference. And aircraft owners and operators can never have too much knowledge when acquiring aircraft spare parts.

The problem of bogus aircraft parts — officially called “suspected unapproved parts” or SUPs — remains as critical now as ever because substandard parts pose a significant threat to aviation safety.

Sometimes a part is labeled “unapproved” for purely paper purposes, with the primary concern being that the paper trail doesn’t document the design and production quality of a component. The part could be in excellent or dismally shoddy condition. But without proper documentation you can’t know without extensive testing — the testing that the parts manufacturer is supposed to do to certify the part as meeting standards.

Sometimes tests show that the part is bogus and the accompanying paperwork is false. Identifying SUPs is challenging because the bogus parts often appear the same as approved parts, putting the safety of the aircraft at risk without the knowledge of the parts user.

In addition, sometimes the paperwork appears as genuine as the part, which means airlines, maintenance organizations, aviation manufacturers and parts distributors need to create and adhere to systems for the detection and reporting of unapproved parts.

SUP detection

Aviation safety authorities such as the FAA and CASA work to assure information about SUPs is distributed to the aviation community in the hopes of assuring further detection and taking counterfeit parts out of circulation.

They strive to bring together as many aviation industry participants as possible to give those participants the latest information about SUP issues, employ steps to combat bogus parts and give participants opportunities to question international experts.

In recent years, the FAA and the aviation industry began work on a program to assure parts traceability, using special markings and codes not available to the general public. The goal: to create a permanent trail for tracing a part from its current owner and location all the way back to its point of origin.

As the FAA’s SUP program influences the world of new parts, the window of opportunity for counterfeiters will steadily narrow — but not close completely. The new system does little for the millions of older spare parts produced before the new program that are still available.

Start close to home

Minimizing the risk of inadvertently accepting a bogus part starts with aircraft owners and operations, according to FAA guidelines:

  • Know your suppliers and eschew low-ball pitches from unknown suppliers.
  • Check labels of new parts against those of parts already known to be legal from a known source.
  • Watch for damaged shipping boxes or reused labels, smudged stamps or other indications of package tampering.

If you suspect that someone has tried to sell you an SUP or you have inadvertently purchased one, you can report it at the FAA Web site’s Suspected Unapproved Parts Program page at

To insure that you do not purchase or use counterfeit jet parts, consult with a broker or professionals who know the ins and outs of what to look for during the pre-purchase inspection. Many experts can even help you trace prior ownership (pedigree) and the history of the aircraft.

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