Airlines Granted More Time on Defective Seats .

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by sobore, Jun 2, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304563104576360012789361154.html

    U.S. aviation regulators, moving to reduce industry costs for replacing potentially thousands of defective airline seats, issued a final rule giving airlines significantly greater flexibility and more time to comply than under previous proposals.
    Released Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration's safety directive requires additional testing to determine whether some 40,000 seats manufactured by Japan's Koito Industries Ltd., and installed on more than 270 U.S. commercial aircraft, comply with mandatory safety standards.

    In some cases, the FAA rule also gives carriers up to six years to replace seats that fail to pass, versus a strict two-year deadline the agency proposed last fall. The Continental Airlines unit of United Continental Holdings Inc. is the U.S. carrier most affected by the rule, industry officials said.
    The latest move came just before European regulators, according to industry officials, are slated to issue separate, more-stringent rules requiring airlines to essentially replace all Koito-manufactured seats within 10 years—regardless of whether they pass certain mandatory safety tests.
     
  2. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    It would be good for the airplane manufacturers if they also mandated that all planes be replaced within 10 years -- regardless of whether they pass certain milepoint member tests.
     
  3. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    I'm actually surprised they don't have a preset retire date. Especially with all the heavy use they get now days.
     
  4. gobluetwo
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    gobluetwo Silver Member

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    Are you saying that because of the 737 cracking issue? Is 10 years realistic? And how would it be good for the airplane manufacturers?
     
  5. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    Wouldn't they sell and manufacture more planes?

    My comment was mostly sarcastic. I don't see the logic in the European rule that all Koito seats must be replaced regardless of whether they pass certain mandatory safety tests. Are the European regulators saying that their own safety tests are not satisfactory? If so, why should the mandate be limited to the Koito seats?
     
  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The previously proposed tests for the Koito seat re-certification was to be only a subset of the full testing program that they should have completed. So saying that they're OK because they passed the new tests isn't necessarily true. Now, how one decides which tests are really important and which aren't is something I couldn't begin to fathom but so it goes.
     
  7. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    My dad flies small planes and says they get the entire engine taken apart and rebuilt every few years. Given the incredible focus on inspections and maintenance for small aircraft (and I can only assume large aircraft get something similar) then a 30-year-old plane probably isn't as much of a risk as a 30-year-old car. I've seen 10-year-old cars I wouldn't want to ride in.
     
  8. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    I've seen new cars I wouldn't want to ride in.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    I understand that, but why would the new tests be good for 10 years? Isn't that rather arbitrary? The new tests can say that they're OK for up to 10 years?
     
  10. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Ah, but I think the commercial is still cool. Ironic, though, that the scenery moves around the Cube while the Cube stays put. Apparently someone forgot the engine.
     
  11. Wandering Aramean
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    I can actually think of a few reasons, though I do agree that it is all arbitrary, especially when the new tests are only a subset of the original requirements.

    Among other things, material fatigue occurs over time and if they aren't requiring full compliance today with all fatigue tests (either because they believe there will be failures or because it is too costly or for any other reason) this is a good way to limit the chances that the seats will end up in a fatigued state and fail for real.

    Similarly, maybe the fabric has enough fire-proofing to be OK today but over time it will evaporate/erode and therefore a hard limit needs to be set on the lifetime of the devices.

    At the end of the day I'm actually betting that the decision is more about not bankrupting CO/UA based on the ~40K seats they have installed on 200+ planes. Is it safe? Probably safe enough. Doesn't mean it is actually in line with the FAA directives, but odds are in our favor as passengers that we'll be fine.
     
  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I am probably at greater risk of dying when driving my car home tonight than if I were to fly non-stop on Koito seats for the rest of the year (certainly, my rear end would not survive that). That said... has Koito gone of out business? If not, why aren't THEY responsible for the cost of replacing the seats?
     
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  13. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    I think it was actually a prescient comment about how these decisions get made. I'm not an expert on the airline industry, but I know how these decisions get made in other spheres and I would bet big money against small that UA/CO was spending a ton on lobbying for the longest/loosest enforcement possible while the other seat manufacturers were lobbying as hard as possible for immediate replacement which would have been a windfall for them.

    In the same way, Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, and Embraer would all love for regulators to suddenly require replacement of a major chunk of all airline fleets--great windfall profit for the manufacturers of new airframes.
     
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  14. Exiled in Express
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    So which seats/aircraft types are impacted by this? I am asking out of curiosity, not panic.
     
  15. Wandering Aramean
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    Pretty much everything CO flies (except the 753/767s, I think). They are, by far, the most affected carrier by this debacle.
     

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