by R. S. Marlow
The United States Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Kobe Steel USA Inc., relating to the Japanese based company admittedly falsifying documents about the the quality and specifications of over 20,000 tons of aluminum and copper.
The announcement was made today on the official Kobe Steel webpage:
“On October 16, 2017 (local time), Kobe Steel USA Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Kobe Steel, Ltd. (the “Company”), received a document from the U.S. judicial administrative authority requesting the production of documents related to non-conformity with the specification of products sold by the Company, the U.S. subsidiary or our affiliated companies to U.S. customers. The Company and its subsidiaries will sincerely cooperate with the investigation.
The effect this incident will have on the Company’s business performance is unclear at this time. The Company plans to make another announcement when the extent of the impact becomes clear.”
The Department of Justice has yet to file charges.
The ultimate wing test on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in 2010.
The widening scandal, which now includes more than five hundred companies globally, has sent stock in the Japanese company spiraling downward forty one percent since the improper conduct was brought to light on Nov. 8. While the reverberations of the situation are yet to be felt by the public, companies like Boeing, Subaru and Mitsubishi Industrial are being forced, out of safety concerns, to investigate each part possibly supplied by Kobe Steel to determine if there is a danger.
The concern is the unknown:
“We are going to have to trace each part back to the manufacturer to determine if the Kobe aluminum is present,” said a source within Boeing, who asked not to be named as they are not an authorized spokesperson. “If the parts pose a safety issue, they will come off the plane.”
These complications are likely to create supply issues for Boeing.
If the supply of aluminum is slowed by recall of aluminum parts that have been manufactured since the Kobe’s admission, the production of some aircraft may be delayed. Boeing has a daunting task ahead of them just to determine the extent of the issue. Once the potential problems are identified, each plane will likely be disabled for a period while the questionable parts are replaced.
“Our planes are engineered to last at least thirty years, but we will not know until the research is done” said the source from Boeing. “If the stencil strength is not as rated, our reductions are flawed; we no longer have a configuration control.”
The initial safety of the 787 Dreamliner has been verified through rigorous testing, in spite of the presence of the questionable aluminum. But sources within Boeing, question the longevity of aluminum supplied by Kobe.
In 2010 the Test Aircraft 787 Dreamliner completed the “ultimate-load wing-up bending test,” in which the wings on the 787 were flexed upward 25 feet, equating to 150 percent of the most extreme forces the airplane is ever expected to endure. Ultimate wing load testing is standard procedure for any new airplane design and has been done on all aircraft. Then question then becomes, for how long?
A statement from Boeing claims no immediate danger, but we are likely see that change.