Some Boeing and Airbus Jets May Contain Mystery Metal

The manufacturer and the FAA are investigating the issue

Boeing 737 made by Spirit AeroSystems
Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. signage on a Boeing 737 fuselage outside the Boeing Co. manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington.
David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images

One of the reasons that a Boeing 737 losing its door plug mid-flight alarmed so many people is simple: travelers trust that the aircraft they board have been meticulously maintained. That begins with the construction of a new plane and continues through the everyday check-ups and repairs that keep planes operational. It goes without saying that the actual material used for the plane is above-board — or, at least, it should be.

Unfortunately, Spirit AeroSystems — which makes aircraft components for both Boeing and Airbus — is currently investigating whether some of the titanium it used in building different aircraft is actually titanium.

No, you read that correctly. According to Mark Walker at The New York Times, both Spirit itself and the FAA are currently investigating a report that a supplier falsified data on the composition of metal that it sold to Spirit. These investigations were sparked following the discovery of what Walker described as “small holes in the material from corrosion” on one plane.

The investigations seek to determine, among other things, how many planes are affected by the falsified records. “Once we realized the counterfeit titanium made its way into the supply chain, we immediately contained all suspected parts to determine the scope of the issues,” Spirit spokesperson Joe Buccino told the Times.

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Spirit AeroSystems was a part of Boeing until 2005. Earlier this year, Spirit announced that Boeing was looking into re-acquiring them, 19 years after they parted company. “The Spirit Board of Directors and management team are committed to enhancing shareholder value and regularly review the Company’s opportunities to further this objective,” Spirit said in a statement.


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