Koito Industries, a Japanese supplier of seats to carriers such as Continental Airlines, falsified test results and made unauthorized design changes on 150,000 seats supplied to 32 international airlines, Japan’s Transport Ministry said.
After getting his wrists slapped by ministry officials on February 8, Koito president Takashi Kakegawa apologized at a news conference. “Fraudulent acts were conducted across the organization,” he said.
Some 1,000 Boeing and Airbus aircraft use Koito seats. The transport ministry has ordered Koito to improve quality controls and repair those that have proved faulty. The company must submit a plan for making repairs by February 26, and perform urgent fixes by the end of May. It must perform the remainder of the repairs by December 31.
The ministry said Koito omitted part of a test process and used figures from previous tests. It also manipulated computers so normal figures would appear on monitors when ministry officials observed testing procedures.
The ministry also stated that Koito could have been falsifying data since the mid-1990s, but that the wrongdoing came to light only when a Koito whistleblower reported it last June. It issued a verbal warning to Koito last year after JAL received seats covered in uncertified material. Seat material is important for slowing spread of fire in aircraft.
Continental has delayed deliveries of new 737-800s because of late arrival of Koito seats.
Singapore Airlines said the Koito affair is delaying delivery of its 11th Airbus A380 as well as installation of new seats in some existing Boeing 777-300s.
Koito said the axle in a new seat design failed a safety test, forcing Japan’s ANA to postpone delivery of new Boeings by six months. ANA is seeking compensation from Koito for delays and the costs of installing alternative seats, a spokesman said.