Japanese plane seat maker admits falsifying safety data

TOKYO, Feb 9, 2010 (AFP) - Japanese airplane seat maker Koito Industries has said it had fabricated safety data on 150,000 seats used by 32 carriers, the latest trouble to hit the country's reputation for reliability. The seats manufactured by the Yokohama-based firm are used in about 1,000 Boeing and Airbus aircraft, including more than 300 planes of the two major Japanese carriers Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. Its international customers include Air Canada, KLM, Scandinavian Airlines and Singapore Airlines. "I deeply apologise," company president Takashi Kakegawa told a news conference late Monday. "The whole section in charge was systematically involved in it," he said. "We did wrongdoing on concerns that we would delay our delivery if we failed in tests." Japan's transport ministry has already instructed the company to improve its business operations, but stressed there was no problem with the planes continuing to fly. The manufacturer omitted part of a test process and used figures from past tests, the ministry said, adding that the data falsification could have been going on since the mid-1990s. The nation's largest plane seat maker was ordered by the ministry to retest the products to confirm their safety and would fix them if necessary, the company said. The company is a subsidiary of Koito Manufacturing, an auto parts maker affiliated with Toyota Motor, now under fire over recalls of millions of vehicles worldwide due to problems with accelerator pedals and floor mats. The world's largest automaker is expected to pull as many as 300,000 Prius hybrid vehicles as early as Tuesday because of a problem with the braking system. Toyota Motor has no direct equity stake in Koito Industries. by Michael Thurston (c) 2010 AFP
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Source: AFP
Date: Feb 9, 2010