Following reports that Japan’s Kobe Steel Ltd. may have shipped non-conforming materials to its customers, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) 2017-17, recommending that design approval holders suspend use of Kobe Steel products if alternative supplies are available.
In news releases dated Oct. 8 and 13, Kobe Steel said it is investigating “improper conduct” by Kobe and its group companies, including Kobelco. Kobe said that it has discovered that units in its aluminum and copper business did not comply with agreed product specifications, that data in inspection certificates was “improperly rewritten” and products were shipped as having met specifications. Kobe said it has begun contacting customers who may have received non-conforming products.
EASA said its SIB applies to design, production and repair approval holders of certified products, parts and appliances containing material supplied by Kobe Steel. Japanese authorities, including the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, are investigating the matter to establish the scope and extent of the problem, EASA said.
EASA recommended that until more information becomes available, all organizations that have specified or used Kobe Steel products should do a thorough review of their supply chains. The agency advised production and repair approval holders to inform their customers and the appropriate authorities about using the Kobe Steel products, and to establish the scope of use of affected parts in their products, paying particular attention to identifying such material in critical applications such as primary structures and critical parts and systems.