Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

General Electric (GE) and Pratt &Whitney (P&W) are being accused by alternative parts supplier Heico Aerospace of "improperly" raising safety concerns in an attempt to protect their captive markets for replacement engine components.

Heico president and chief executive Eric Mendelson levels the allegation in a letter to the US Federal Aviation Administration. It was written in response to an earlier appeal by GE and P&W for the agency to drastically tighten rules governing the certification of parts manufacturing approvals (PMAs) for core engine components (Flight International, 24 - 30 October).

Though the two US engine makers cite safety concerns for their action, Mendelson states: "We believe that GE and P&W are now merely engaging in a thinly veiled subterfuge to protect their respective monopolies on most jet engine replacement parts."

GE responded to the Heico accusations saying: "There is no suggestion of barring anyone from doing hot section parts - we were very careful about that. It just says that if they do it they should be subjected to the same sort of oversight as us, and be subjected to the same requirements. We are saying it's time to create a standard."

Heico's Flight Support Group, which is 20%-owned by Lufthansa Technik, claims to be the world's largest non-original equipment manufacturer (non-OEM) of replacement parts for large commercial turbofans.

GE and P&W argue that FAA rules do not require non-OEM parts to be manufactured to the same standards as those they produce themselves, introducing a "new and greater level of risk".

However, Heico points out that it and many other companies have been working together with GE and P&W for the past seven years through the FAA's Aviation Rule Making Advisory Committee (ARAC), resulting in the submission of a unanimously agreed Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in 1999.

The company says it is "shocked that GE and P&W have gone outside the ARAC process", during which industry participants "thoroughly discussed and examined all issues related to this subject".

Heico is one of several ambitious non-OEMs - including joint venture KLM-Chromalloy - which are attempting to break into the lucrative market for replacement core engine components such as high-pressure compressor blades. A number of airlines are already flying Heico's FAA-approved blades.

Lufthansa Technik uses the blades for its own engine overhaul activities and believes competition in the market will help to improve quality standards as well as reduce prices, which it claims have "increased 100% during the last decade where no competition existed".

Source: Flight International