Exclusive: Airbus grants exception to permit Koito seats on SIA A380s

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Airbus has granted an exceptional authorization to allow the installation of business class seats from Koito Industries on Singapore Airlines' delayed Airbus A380 aircraft, despite the embattled Japanese manufacturer's admitted falsification of data on some 150,000 seats in the world fleet, ATI and Flightglobal has learned.

A new exceptional authorization issued by the European airframer accepts under Airbus production organization approval (POA) Koito-made business class seats for SIA's 12th A380, MSN058, although comments from SIA suggest the carrier intends to have Koito seats installed on at least three delayed A380s.

"We have three A380 deliveries coming up in the next few months and the priority has been on working with Airbus and Koito to meet certification requirements for the business class seats," a SIA spokesman confirms.

Airbus' exceptional authorization is understood to have been issued with a number of stipulations, including EASA approval prior to delivery.

It comes some 19 months after Airbus POA for Koito was pulled, meaning Koito "cannot produce seat or seat parts for airborne use", Airbus said in a previous telex on the matter.

Early last year Koito made the stunning revelation that it falsified safety test results on as many as 150,000 seats on 1,000 aircraft used by 32 carriers. Evidence from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) highlighted three areas where Koito fabricated results - 16g and 9g test data and flammability data. Multiple sources say Koito used its own rubber stamp to falsely indicate that some seats had cleared tests by the JCAB. The debacle has caused aircraft delivery delays at both Airbus and Boeing.

Later in 2010 EASA and the US FAA issued proposed airworthiness directives, with the European agency taking a harder line than its US counterpart, although its proposal did not cover the A380.

To date, SIA has taken delivery of 11 A380s. Delivery of SIA's 11th A380 was delayed due to problems with Koito seats. The carrier had expected to receive its 12th and 13th A380s in the fourth quarter of 2010 and its 14th A380 in the first quarter of 2011.

The SIA spokesman says the delay of SIA's A380s is "only related to seats".

Airbus could not provide immediate comment.