Business

Japan's IHI admits unqualified workers inspected airplane engines

Kyodo, JIJI

Heavy machinery maker IHI Corp. said Tuesday it has discovered unqualified workers inspected airplane engines after routine repair and maintenance operations, becoming the latest Japanese manufacturer involved in quality control misconduct.

The company launched an investigation into whether any improper checks had been conducted after such inspections were discovered by the transport ministry during on-site inspections in January and February.

“We will consider taking necessary administrative measures,” transport minister Keiichi Ishii told a news conference, adding that the matter is “extremely regrettable.”

Unqualified workers conducted visual inspections of repaired engine parts at a factory in Tokyo that maintains around 150 engines a year mainly for low-cost carriers, IHI said.

In some cases, the workers compiled inspection documents under the names of qualified employees and IHI is delving deeper into the issue.

Unauthorized workers conducted inspections during part of the maintenance process, and hundreds of engines may have been affected, the IHI officials said.

“We deeply apologize for causing concern and worries to our stakeholders, including customers and clients,” the company said in a statement.

IHI said there have been no reported disruptions to flights because of the affected engines and it currently does not plan to recall them as it knows of no safety problems that must be dealt with immediately.

IHI is investigating details including when the wrongdoing started. The company will cooperate in the ministry’s investigation, the officials said.

The company joins a number of major Japanese manufacturers in admitting to improper quality control in recent years. Carmakers Subaru Corp. and Nissan Motors Co. revealed they conducted inspections by unqualified workers, while Kobe Steel Ltd. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp. said they fabricated product data.

Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. said Tuesday that IHI told them no engines inspected by the company have safety issues. The two airlines consign some of their engine repairs and maintenance operations to IHI.

IHI makes engines for Boeing Co. and Airbus S.A.S. and has been strengthening the maintenance side of its business. The company is building a new plant in Saitama Prefecture to begin maintenance operations later this year.

Regional airliner Fuji Dream Airlines Co. Ltd., which uses two airports in central Japan as its hub, has its engines inspected by IHI. The airline said it has not yet received any notification from IHI regarding the matter but added that there was no immediate impact on operations.

Low-cost carrier Jetstar Japan Co. Ltd. said IHI had told the firm there was no direct impact to operation of the engines inspected by the company. Four other domestic low-cost carriers said they have no ties with IHI for engine maintenance.