Seat safety scandal delays new aircraft

9 Feb 2010

A Japanese plane-seat manufacturer is being forced to repair an estimated 150,000 seats after faking safety data that has also created delays in the delivery of new aircraft.

Koito Industries has admitted to fast-tracking production of the seats by omitting certain processes of the safety checks and using data from previous tests instead.

The firm produces seats for around 1,000 Boeing and Airbus aircraft, used by domestic airlines Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airways (ANA), including as many as 30 international carriers such as SAS, Singapore Airlines (SIA), Air Canada and KLM.

In September last year, the European Aviation Safety Agency withdrew its approval of Koito-produced seats.

Japan’s transport ministry warned Koito last year after it delivered seats to JAL that used unauthorised covering materials. Company president Takashi Kakegawa told a news conference: “The whole section in charge was systematically involved in it. We did wrongdoing on concerns that we would delay our delivery if we failed in tests.”

A spokesman for SIA told media that: “We are working closely with Koito, the aircraft manufacturers and relevant regulatory authorities. We expect the issues will be resolved soon.”

Late delivery of seats from Koito has forced SIA, Continental Airlines and ANA to delay the introduction of new Airbus aircraft in recent weeks. Some airlines have sought alternative manufacturers.

However, no aviation authority has advised the grounding of affected planes as a result of the scandal.

Kenny Coyle

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