Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Airlines May Be Forced To Remove Defective Seats

American and European aviation safety regulators have proposed a two-year deadline for the testing of certain defective passenger seats on more than 1,000 planes, failing which the seats will have to be removed from the planes. It's likely to cause airlines financial distress as they are forced to yank seats manufactured by Japan's Koito Industries Ltd., unless the company is able to determine which of the seats are defective.

In 2009, Japanese authorities began investigating the possibility that the company had falsified test data. Koito later confessed that it had used a computer program that delivered falsified strength test readings. The company also admitted that it had, in some cases, used results from previous tests. Late last year, officials at the company admitted some more discrepancies. Test results involving more than 150,000 seats in more than 1,000 planes supplied across the world, have been falsified. These planes are currently being used by more than 30 carriers. Koito has since apologized, and promised to conduct tests and fix any defective passenger seats.

The concerns are that these passenger seats increase the risk of injury or fatality during an accident or other emergency situation. These potentially unsafe seats could catch fire during a rough landing or crash, and could injure passengers and crew members. Earlier this year, California plane crash lawyers had believed that airlines would voluntarily be able to remove some of the seats found to be defective from their cabins. However, the problem seems to be in determining which of the seats are defective. Independent experts are conducting tests to confirm which of the seats manufactured by the Japanese company are unsafe.

However, considering the number of seats that are involved and the number of airlines that these seats have been supplied to, determining which of the passenger seats are defective is going to be a monumental task. In the meantime, the airlines could have a two-year deadline during which they either wait for the test results to confirm which seats are defective, or get all of these Koito-manufactured seats removed from cabins.

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