The highest level of response to violation of the safety standards of the FARs is criminal prosecution. The goal of such action is to get the attention of the class of people, who might attempt to commit the same or similar act.
The warning in the below prosecution is clearly directed at the sellers of aviation parts. The message should also be considered as an example to the other side of the transaction—the buyer or as expressed in the Latin and formidable phrase—CAVEAT EMPTOR! The consequences of this case are marked by the sentence, but the lessons should extend to the QC offices of all aviation related firms; as you buy parts, make sure that they meet all of the FAA’s requirements or your inventory may be worthless as well as a huge safety risk.
THE FACTS: Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JEFFREY WARGA, 61, of North Kingstown, R.I., waived his right to indictment and
pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford. On January 21, 2016, the defendant was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Hartford, Connecticut, to 3 years of probation, 80 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine. He was also ordered not to sell components to the Government or aircraft manufacturers. The sentence is related to his role in supplying customers with falsely re-marked microprocessor chips, many of which were used in U.S. Military and commercial helicopters.
THE IMMEDIATE IMPACT: sellers should be deterred from incorrectly identifying/labeling parts.
The case should demonstrate to those who are in the business of selling parts THAT CARE IN REPRESENTING THE AIRWORTHINESS, SOURCE AND HISTORY OF PARTS IS NOT JUST A MATTER OF PAPERWORK, BUT CAN HAVE DIRE CRIMINAL CONSEQUENCES. By failing to exercise care in the sale of aviation parts, Mr. Harga has been found guilty of a criminal offense and ordered not to sell parts to the US government and OEMs.
With such a public condemnation, it is highly unlikely that buyers will consider his company as a source for parts in the future. Trust is a valuable element of business transactions and this criminal conviction signals to the buyers of parts that he may not be a trustworthy source. Yes, the compliance with the FAA rules as to airworthy parts are both detailed and complex, but ignorance is not a defense to these allegations!
THE 2nd TAKEAWAY: buyers beware. This is a story of a company selling parts to fairly sophisticated buyers and “SUPs” were bought. The ability to distinguish between good and bad parts is VERY difficult. The expertise to make that judgment involves a using a great encyclopedia of details about the parts, about their “pedigree”, about the documentation, etc. This is not intuitive and requires extensive experience to make the right determination in the purchase process. There are courses designed to supplement and confirm your data.
Taking the time to refresh your SUP data base, to hear the advice of SMEs, to share best practices and to discuss leading issues is well warranted. A couple of days of learning may well avoid many, many hours of recalling bad parts from your inventory, many, many dollars of write-offs of unairworthy purchases or dealing with the consequences of the introduction of one or more SUP into your fleet.