A federal grand jury has indicted six former executives and supervisors of a Northern California aircraft repair company on charges that they cut corners and used unapproved parts.
The indictment unsealed Thursday in Sacramento charges the former employees of Lincoln-based WECO Aerospace Systems Inc. with conspiring to use uncertified parts and falsely certifying that the Federal Aviation Administration approved their use.
Prosecutors allege the faulty repairs happened on small, private aircraft between October 2006 and February 2008. No crashes or flight emergencies occurred because of the repairs, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said.
"While it is fortunate that there are no aircraft crashes known to be associated with faulty repairs conducted by these defendants, their alleged conduct needlessly took risks with the safety of persons who used aircraft that they repaired," Wagner said. "FAA regulations are intended to ensure the safety of air travel, and those who disregard them in order to increase profits should face serious consequences."
Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. purchased WECO Aerospace Systems in 2007, and Wagner said Gulfstream has cooperated in the investigation.
The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 20.
The indictment names Jerry Edward Kuwata, 60, of Granite Bay; Michael Dennis Maupin, 58, of Arbuckle; Scott Hamilton Durham, 39, of Roseville; Christopher Warren MacQueen, 53, of Lincoln; Douglas Arthur Johnson, 52, of Granite Bay; and Anthony Vincent Zito, 47, of Saugus, and charges each of them with multiple counts. Each man faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted. None could be reached for comment.
The indictment alleges that the men conspired to use cheaper and inferior parts in place of FAA-approved parts. In one instance, two of the men are accused of using a paper clip to finish a repair job and then claiming to have inserted an FDA-approved part.
The men are also charged with failing to comply with maintenance manual procedures required by the FAA. Those procedures include tests and inspections of the repaired parts before they can be returned to customers. The indictment alleges that the company in several instances didn't have the necessary equipment on hand to perform the required testing and inspections.