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Counterfeit aircraft parts can make their way onto U.S. planes

When it's time to replace parts or even entire airplanes, owners and airlines are often looking for a deal. The history of commercial aviation shows that lower prices win out, and designers put ever more seats and spaces in for more fliers.

This may not be true with small aircraft owners or pleasure fliers, but one problem can easily affect all people responsible for airplanes and helicopters. Cheaper parts are often tempting, but they may be too good an idea to be true.

Specifically, the United States and other countries with large numbers of aircraft can be home to scams for counterfeit parts. These schemes may be as small as a basement industry or involve entire companies using the wrong materials or marking items for the wrong uses.

These items may not be caught by regulators as much as owners and mechanics may hope. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not always spotted counterfeit parts in inspections or passed the reports on to law enforcement agencies if they did. An investigation showed the agency had not always resolved inspections by ensuring all counterfeit parts were replaced.

Companies or maintenance workers responsible for spotting counterfeit parts may be liable if they are part of catastrophic failures or any other problem with an aircraft that results in injury or death. Although it is often a difficult part of the process of dealing with an aircraft accident, financial damages can help people move on from the event. Legal representation is often a good idea when it is necessary to sue over defective parts.

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