US probes air bag failures in deadly Hyundai, Kia car crashes

This file photo taken on January 15, 2018 shows the interior of the new Hyundai Veloster during the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2018
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US probes air bag failures in deadly Hyundai, Kia car crashes

WASHINGTON: The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Saturday it is opening a probe into why some air bags failed to deploy in Hyundai and Kia vehicles after crashes in which four people were reportedly killed and another six injured.
The agency said it was reviewing 425,000 2012-2013 Kia Forte and 2011 Hyundai Sonata cars. It also said it will determine if any other manufacturers used similar air bag control units and if they posed a safety risk.
Hyundai Motor Co. issued a recall last month for 154,753 US Sonatas after non-deployment reports were linked to electrical overstress in the air bag control unit, but said it did not have a final fix yet.
Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor said the South Korean automaker is aware of reports of two deaths in its vehicles, which he said occurred in head-on collisions at extremely high rates of speed. Trainor said the automaker is working with NHTSA in the investigation, and that it has not seen any issues with any vehicle apart from the 2011 Sonata.
“We are working on getting the fix as fast we can,” Trainor said.
NHTSA, which announced the start of the probe in documents posted on a government website, said it was aware of six crashes in which six people were injured when air bags failed to deploy in frontal crashes, including four in 2011 Hyundai Sonatas and two in 2012 and 2013 Kia Fortes. The 2013 Forte crash occurred in Canada.
The agency said the air bag control module was built by ZF Friedrichshafen-TRW, a German auto supplier that acquired TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. in 2015.
“ZF is aware of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recently announced investigation,” a ZF spokesman said in a statement. “ZF continues to work with its customers and NHTSA to support the ongoing investigation.”
NHTSA said it believed that the 2012-2013 Forte cars also use similar air bag control units supplied by ZF-TRW.
Kia Motors Corp. said in a statement it has “carefully monitored the quality and safety performance of the 2012-2013 Kia Forte.”
The company added it “has not confirmed any airbag non-deployments arising from the potential chip issue.” Kia said it will work closely with NHTSA on the investigation, “including monitoring and conducting additional crash testing as appropriate.”
The agency also said that electrical overstress appeared to be the root cause in a 2016 recall by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of 1.4 million US vehicles for air bag non-deployments in significant frontal crashes.
In 2014, Hyundai agreed to pay a $17.35 million fine to settle a NHTSA investigation into delays in the recall of 43,500 Genesis cars to fix a brake defect. NHTSA said in 2014 Hyundai “must change the way they deal with safety-related defects.” Hyundai vowed to make improvements.
In 2017, NHTSA opened a formal investigation into the recall of nearly 1.7 million vehicles by Hyundai and Kia over engine defects. A South Korean whistleblower reported concerns in 2016 to NHTSA, which is probing the timeliness of three recalls carried out in the United States and whether they covered enough vehicles.


Ryanair agrees to buy 25 more Boeing 737 MAX planes

Updated 43 min 38 sec ago
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Ryanair agrees to buy 25 more Boeing 737 MAX planes

DUBLIN: Ryanair has agreed to buy a further 25 Boeing 737 MAX planes, worth $3 billion at list prices, lifting its order of the US planemaker’s flagship short-haul plane model to 135, the two companies said on Tuesday.
The Irish low-cost carrier, which is the largest operator of Boeing planes in Europe, purchased 100 737 MAX planes in 2014 and took out options on 100 more.
Ryanair said the order leaves it with 75 more options.
It purchased 10 additional MAX planes in June last year, which were on top of the 2014 order.
Chief Executive Michael O’Leary in March said he expected to exercise “pretty much all” of its options.
Ryanair has dubbed the MAX a “game changer” for its business, due to a fuel consumption improvement it says could be up to 16 percent and a greater number of seats.
The configuration Ryanair has ordered has 197 seats compared to 189 in its current fleet of 737s.
Ryanair rivals easyJet and Wizz have ordered Airbus A321 planes, which seat up to 239 passengers.
Ryanair has held talks with Boeing about its new larger version of the 737 airliner, the MAX 10, which can carry up to 230 passengers, but has made clear it would only be interested if the price is lowered.
The first of Ryanair’s 737 MAX planes are due for delivery in the first half of 2019 and will use CFM Leap-1B engines.
Ryanair, which currently operates around 430 Boeing 737 planes, says the MAX order will allow it reach its target of carrying 200 million passengers per year by 2024.