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Koito's airline customers urged to donate seats for testing

A dedicated advisory board is pressing airlines with Koito Industries-manufactured passenger seats to donate seats for confidence testing, as it seeks to determine if a safety issue exists on Koito models installed on in-service aircraft.

The board, comprising Airbus, Boeing, Koito, three airlines and safety regulators, has already spent several months reviewing available data from Koito, which admitted earlier this year to fabricating test results on as many as 150,000 seats on 1,000 aircraft in the world fleet.

Questions surround Koito's 16g and 9g structural testing, as well as its flammability test data. Multiple sources tell ATI and Flightglobal that Koito used its own rubber stamp to falsely indicate that some seats had cleared tests by the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB).

Airbus is currently performing confidence tests in addition to its work on the advisory board. While Airbus so far has found no evidence of seat anomalies, the airframer says it is "too early to say" if EASA or the FAA will issue airworthiness directives as any AD "would depend on the results from the confidence testing".

The advisory board is "encouraging airlines with Koito seats to donate seats for confidence testing", adds the European manufacturer, which has not offered aircraft with Koito seats since last fall, when EASA withdrew production organization approval for Koito.

Boeing, meanwhile, only recently stopped making Koito seats offerable on its new aircraft. The company, which has a team on-site in Japan assisting Koito, says that while "some non-compliances were found, no safety-of-flight issues have been identified" during testing.

Boeing says it is still working with airline customers that have existing orders "to ensure Koito is delivering seats that meet safety and design requirements".

However, some existing customers have abandoned their Koito orders. Continental Airlines, a large customer of the Japanese firm, has opted not to have Koito seats installed on its new Boeing aircraft, and has endured lengthy delivery delays on several Boeing 737-800s.

Continental says Boeing "is providing us with an interim seat made by B/E Aerospace and we expect to take all of the aircraft by the end of August".

Koito's ability to deliver on its commitments is also in question, however. Five A330-300s destined for Thai Airways International have been parked at Bordeaux for months.

The airline in a recent statement said it has picked German firm ZIM Flugsitz as its supplier of economy-class seats for the A330s should Koito be unable to confirm its commitment to the carrier by 20 September.

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