Takata Corp. was reported to have ordered the destruction of test results for some airbags after finding cracks in their inflators. The New York Times reported that Takata carried out tests on the inflators after an accident in 2004 when the device in a Honda Accord exploded, thereby ejecting metal fragments and injuring the driver.
Citing two former employees at the Japanese supplier, the newspaper said Takata retrieved 50 airbags from scrap yards for tests not long after the incident. But instead of alerting the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, executives at the company ordered its technicians to destroy the test data.
The former employees told the New York Times that the test result in 2004 was so startling that engineers commenced designing possible fixes to get ready for a recall. Takata was conducting the tests under the supervision of then then-vice president for engineering Al Bernat in the summer of 2004 at its Michigan headquarters.
After three months of testing, the engineers received an order to stop the tests and destroy the data, including video and computer backups. Takata only disclosed the issue in with the airbags regulatory filings four years later.
Takata has been hounded by issues with faulty inflators in its airbags, which can explode with excessive force and spray metal shards. Takata supplies those airbags to several global carmakers.
The faulty airbags have become the center of a regulatory probe in the US and have prompted the recall of around 17 million cars globally in the past six years – with more expected to be called back.