VIDEO: Boeing still offering Koito seats (UPDATE 1)

UPDATE: Boeing has provided the following comment (which confirms the Business Week article): “Boeing has a team of a dozen to monitor Koito’s testing, along with the JCAB. Our team has been at Koito since late fall 2009. We are making sure tests are correctly done before allowing the seats to be shipped to Boeing’s factories in Puget Sound. We will continue to oversee testing as long as it is necessary. No safety of flight issues have been identified with Koito seats. As you know, our customers purchase the seats, so we are continuing to work closely with our customers on this issue.”


Original Blog Post:

A few weeks ago, I flew out to Everett, Washington to visit with Boeing, check out the 787 Airplane 3 testbed (which is fitted with some interiors), and tour the Dreamliner Gallery.

While there, I asked gallery technical manager Mark Larson about the Koito seat debacle (yes, I need to come up with a better word for this atrocity), which was just starting to break (on RWG, ahem).

See what Larson said in the video below. His comments still stand, as evidenced by a new Business Week article on the subject.

Key quote from that article:

“We don’t have any recommendations for change right now because it’s not been determined that it’s a safety-of-flight issue,” and U.S. regulators haven’t issued any rulings about the seats, Beverly Holland, a Boeing spokeswoman in Seattle, said in an interview today.

Of course, that might all change. EASA, which pulled POA for Koito last fall – effectively banning Airbus from delivering aircraft with Koito seats – isn’t ruling out an AD.

And, I’m hearing from several sources that the Koito scandal runs much deeper than Koito admits. Some say Koito’s letter to airlines is a gross understatement of the level of falsification in design and production and plays down what is going to be required by EASA/FAA. But that’s just part of the problem.

Meanwhile, airlines from all over the world are facing delivery delays, not just Continental Airlines, as extra quality control is implemented. I’m told that, at one point last fall, aircraft destined for EVA Air, V Australia and Cathay Pacific were all sitting at Everett waiting for seats. Boeing has not confirmed this information. Thai is taking its new Airbus A330s empty!

Carriers that saw the writing on the wall, and looked for alternative options last year, won’t be hit as badly as others.

Recaro and other seat makers are no doubt busier than ever. Indeed, one must wonder if the Koito mess is yet another reason  why Boeing is now quietly showing the Recaro Comfort Line 3620 economy class seat to 787 customers.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Koito doesn’t just focus on aircraft seats. It makes everything from toilet seat covers to traffic lights.

And lookie here, I think I may have even found some video of a Koito traffic light in action. What the blazes?

(P.S. We’ve got much more to come from that Boeing tour, so stay tuned.)

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5 Responses to VIDEO: Boeing still offering Koito seats (UPDATE 1)

  1. Uwe February 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Any educated guesses and/or opinions on the
    slightly divergent handling by FAA and EASA?

  2. Mary Kirby February 19, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    I do indeed. But please file this under “opinion”.

    It appears that Boeing would be signfiicantly more impacted by an AD than Airbus.

    Airbus says that only 130 Airbus aircraft in the world fleet have Koito seats, out of some 1,000 aircraft that are estimated to carry Koito seats.

    That means that Boeing customers potentially face the lion’s share of the problem. Boeing has not said how many Boeing aircraft are equipped with Koito seats.

    However, Boeing has been on the ground at Koito for months, overseeing the testing and doing everything it can. That means that Koito seats delivered since last fall are more than likely up to snuff.

    But what about the seats on aircraft in the current fleet? A sampling of those are being tested at independent sites.

    Because the seats technically don’t represent a “safety of flight” issue, the FAA isn’t jumping up and down about an AD….yet. But should the tests prove that Koito seats aren’t up to standard, then an AD will most certainly be issued.

    Imagine telling Boeing customers that they need to modify and/or replace Koito seats on several hundred aircraft.

    Imagine trying to assure 787 customers – which have had to order economy-class seats from the catalog (Koito was among the offerings) – that they have ordered seats from a disgraced company that lied for years, and whose seats are subject of an AD.

    I should stress that none of this is Boeing’s fault. Airlines pick their seats.

    But, in short, the stakes are higher for a US company, and that’s why I think the FAA is downplaying things for now (perhaps with the great hope that the tests will come out AOK, and this whole nightmare will disappear).

    But this is, in my humble opinion, the calm before the storm.

    Why would Koito falsify tests unless it didn’t like the test results it was receiving? Perhaps they did it purely to speed up production (again, they offer some of the cheapest seats around) but that’s a huge chance to take.

    Just my two cents. Opinion. Thanks for asking!

  3. Uwe February 19, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    Thanks for answering ;-)

    Koito has been doing this for years, haven’t they?
    And seats are not tested individually.

    The certification is done on a representative sample.
    If Koito fibbed the certs just to bridge some timing gap
    it wouldn’t have had long standing impact.
    Not on planes flying for some time.

    But thats not how it is, right?

    slightly disconcerted about the FAA’s soft impact

  4. fabio February 24, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    However, even if retest will show that everithing is safety (are you sure that falsifying flammability testing is only for speeding up the process?), I would be surprised if Koito will continue to work in this field as before. I work in the same business field, and only for the fact that our company site is few undred of miles close to another one that in the past (and still now I guess) gave a lot of trouble to many airlines during customer first meetings we are used to spend minutes to explain that we are not them even if come from same country. Trusting to suppliers is really important. Who will trust in a liar?

  5. instantempo November 7, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    Im sorry to ask again, but have you an email or something. I-d like to ask you a few things. it-s quite important. thanks /instantempo

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