V Australia this morning joins 42 airlines around the world considering their next steps after the Federal Aviation Administration issued an airworthiness directive overnight for airlines to determine if their passenger seats meet safety specifications and, if not, to bring them up to standard or replace them within 2-6 years.
The industry is divided on the FAA’s strict, zero-tolerance if you like, approach to the AD. Parties made requests including for the proposed rule be removed (no); the FAA and its European counterpart, EASA, to harmonize their guidelines (no, EASA has a 10-year limiting requirement); certain seat models to be excluded (no); and Koito primary evidence computer data considered (no).
Airbus, Boeing, and multiple airlines including V Australia asked for more comment time so new data from Koito and the JCAB could be evaluated. The JACB says the data showed that new seats of an unspecified vintage manufactured in accordance with Koito’s (certified) production drawings displayed after a tear-down inspection no significant differences that could impact testing.
The FAA agreed new-build seats could stand in for in-service seats for the static test but not the dynamic test. Having to remove in-service seats for testing will create “holes” in cabins, a problem Boeing raised as removing a row means tray tables and other amenities are mis-aligned, and in the case of IFE systems and overhead lights, could throw the entire cabin off-kilter due to the systems being daisy-chained.