The owner of Aviation Engineering Consultants Inc., a Clearwater company that supplies and manufactures aerospace products, was arrested after indictment on charges of providing “substandard aircraft parts” that were used on a Navy jet. Owner Kamran Rouhani was arrested April 11 after a federal grand jury indictment last month on fraud charges relating to “substandard parts” for a Navy E-B6 Mercury jet in 2008. The jets serve as communications relays for ballistic missile submarines as well as U.S. strategic forces. Rouhani was charged with three counts of fraud by wire, radio or television. He was arrested and released the same day on his own recognizance after surrendering his passport. Rouhani provided the parts “which the defendant knew did not meet the specification required by the contract and had not been fabricated by a certified welder” to L-3 Communications, according to the indictment. He then “falsely” told L-3 that the parts had been tested “and met the quality standards required by the contract.”
An attorney representing Rouhani denied the allegations. “The parts were not defective when shipped,” said Frank Louderback. “There is a real question as to whether the certification was important to the specs (specifications). Our position is that the parts met the specs and there was nothing wrong with them.” L-3 officials declined comment because of company policy not to talk about pending legal matters. Aviation Engineering was hired by L-3 to build the jet’s environmental control system and perform air duct bleeding, according to Walter Koon, a Navy spokesman. Nine ducts had been installed on a test aircraft when the Defense Criminal Investigative Service in Tampa began an investigation in October 2008 after “allegedly falsified certificates of conformance” from Aviation Engineering were discovered, Koon wrote in an email to the Tribune. Aviation Engineering “allegedly subcontracted to a welder who was not certified for the aircraft welding,” Koon wrote. The parts were removed and replaced before the jet was tested, Koon wrote. “Substandard parts can threaten the safety and operational effectiveness of U.S. military systems,” Koon wrote in general terms. “The Department of Defense has quality assurance processes aimed at detecting and preventing substandard parts from entering the inventory.” The Clearwater company is “a complete design and engineering house,” according to its website. “We design and manufacture aerospace products (to your specifications) from scratch, through all stages to full development and lifelong support.” Koon could not say whether Aviation Engineering is barred from participating in any further defense contracts. Louderback said the company continues to work on defense contracts. “Mr. Rouhani plans on mounting a vigorous defense,” Louderback said.