Business / Corporate

Japan's IHI finds 7,000 more cases of improper jet engine inspections

Kyodo

A scandal over improper maintenance work at jet-engine maker IHI Corp. deepened as the company said it has found over 7,000 cases of flawed engine inspections in the process of making engine parts during the two years through January.

The latest findings, which also affect parts supplied to Self-Defense Forces aircraft, raised the tally of improper inspections by the Tokyo-based company to over 13,000. IHI said Monday it has found no safety problems due to the improper checks.

IHI, a supplier of engines to Boeing Co. and Airbus S.A.S., is among a slew of Japanese manufacturers recently embroiled in scandals over improper quality controls on their products, including Nissan Motor Co. and Kobe Steel Ltd.

In an investigation covering 1.8 million engine part inspections conducted at three plants in Tokyo and elsewhere, 7,138 cases were found to have involved uncertified staff such as trainees or were not conducted by inspectors whose names were recorded in documents.

About 20 percent of the flawed checks involved defense equipment, including SDF planes, the company said.

The heavy machinery maker stated in a news release that the affected products meet the specified size, strength, functions and performance and have no technical problems.

The company also said the malpractice took place because employees lacked the awareness to abide by the rules and there were insufficient inspectors to handle the increased workload.

“We are considering company-wide measures … to make sure that the same thing will not happen again,” IHI said, noting that it is already training people to become inspectors.

In late March, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry ordered IHI to rectify its jet engine maintenance operations and stick to government-approved methods, after it reported 6,340 improper inspections affecting 209 engines in the two years through January.

The number jumped from an initial report in early March, in which the company only confirmed 211 improper checks in engine maintenance work entrusted by airlines.

The problem was uncovered earlier this year following an on-site inspection by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

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

The scandal has rocked IHI at a time when it is seeking to strengthen its maintenance business through the construction of a new plant in Saitama Prefecture.