An abundance of scrapped electronics when combined with aircraft OEM parts obsolescence has led to an increase in counterfeit parts on the shelves of brokers who supply aircraft electronics.
Axiom Electronics, a builder and integrator of electronic circuit boards and boxes for prime contractors, says 2-3% of the parts it brings in on a daily basis are found to be counterfeit, a situation that has prompted the company to put new controls in place.
The situation is worse at one of its suppliers, North Shore Components, with 30-35% of incoming parts found to be fraudulent per day. North Shore supplies a large number of parts for legacy systems that are no longer covered by the OEMS, a situation that amplifies the problem, officials say.
North Shore says it "combats this situation by using a robust inspection process designed to detect counterfeit components".
"Parts no longer available from the manufacturers end up on black market," says Axiom sales manager, Doug Robertson.
Axiom president Robert Toppel: beware fakes
Robertson notes a 2009 query of 42 suppliers by the US Department of Commerce, counterfeit parts were primarily found to be coming from China and Eastern European countries, but from many others as well. He says a recent US government accountability study found that 40% of the Defense Department's supply chain is infected with the bogus electronics.
In addition to tightening down on approved suppliers, Axiom is also beefing up training for its inspectors and has put a tracking system in place to flag suspect parts. Irregularities in the parts include inconsistent or incorrect labeling, "blacktopping" a part with a new covering, and a variety of faults of time-consuming microscopic techniques.