Airliner seat maker Koito hit for fabricating fire-resistance data

Kyodo News

The transport ministry has instructed an airplane seat maker to improve its business operations after the company fabricated fire resistance and strength data on 150,000 seats for planes for 32 airlines in 24 countries and territories.

The seats manufactured by Yokohama-based Koito Industries Ltd. are currently used in some 1,000 Boeing and Airbus planes, including more than 300 owned by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.

After being summoned to the ministry to receive the instruction Monday, Koito President Takashi Kakegawa apologized at a news conference.

“The whole section in charge was systematically involved (in the falsification),” he said, adding that the company and the management are responsible.

According to the transport ministry, Koito omitted part of a test process and used figures from past tests instead.

It also manipulated computers so normal figures would appear on monitors when officials from the ministry observed the testing procedures.

The data falsification could have been going on since the mid-1990s.

The ministry ordered the company to retest its products to confirm their safety.

The incident came to light when a whistle-blower inside the company informed the ministry about the falsifications last June and July.

The ministry said there is no problem about continuing the operations of airplanes with the questionable products in accordance with consultations with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Among planes used for domestic flights, about 30,000 seats on 184 JAL aircraft and 26,000 seats on 141 ANA planes were made by Koito.