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Former Operations Manager Pleads Guilty to Recklessly Endangering Aircraft

On October 30, 2012, Jerry E. Kuwata, former operations manager, WECO Aerospace Systems, Incorporated, Lincoln, California, pled guilty in U.S. District Court, Sacramento, California, to conspiracy to destroy an aircraft. According to the plea agreement, Mr. Kuwata conspired to conceal from customers and the FAA that aircraft repairs were done in accordance with manufacturer's Component Maintenance Manuals (CMMs). The investigation found that the defendants regularly directed WECO technicians to use unapproved parts in repairs. On one occasion, one of the defendants allegedly used a paper clip to complete a repair. During the repair of an aircraft part, a certified repair station is required to comply with the CMM, a step-by-step guide for conducting a proper repair. The CMM is prepared by the manufacturer and approved by the FAA and not only contains the steps that  must be taken to fix a part, but also lists the tests and inspections that must be done before the part can be returned to service. The investigation determined that the defendants regularly failed to follow the CMMs, and did not have the equipment needed to perform many of the required tests. Two defendants, Michael Maupin and Anthony Zito, have already pled guilty and await sentencing.

This is a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General.