Aerospace Firm Tapped To Investigate Exploding Takata Air Bags

Feb 26, 2015 04:00 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

The 10-carmaker consortium that came together to investigate Takata's infamous exploding air bags has selected an aerospace firm to test the Japanese supplier's problematic inflators.

In a statement, the group announced the selection of Orbital ATK, a contractor and supplier that works in aerospace and defense technologies worldwide.

Takata's faulty inflators have resulted in the recall of more than 17 million vehicles in the United States, according to Automotive News. The faulty inflators, which can explode and send shrapnel flying in the event of a crash, have been related to at least six deaths.

The consortium includes Toyota, Honda, Fiat Chrysler, BMW, Mazda, Ford, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Nissan and General Motors. 

Orbital ATK will conduct independent testing on the inflators to find out what causes them to explode. The testing initiative that will be headed by David Kelly, a former acting administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The aerospace and defense firm's experience in working with rocket propulsion systems should help when it comes to investing ammonium nitrate, the dangerous substance Takata used as a propellant in the disastrous air bags.

"Orbital ATK is one of the world's leading engineering firms, and we are confident that their extensive expertise will help speed and advance the ongoing technical investigation of Takata air bag inflators," the carmaker group said in a statement.

"We look forward to the results of this testing process as we continue to focus on the safety, security and peace of mind of our customers."

Takata started using ammonium nitrate in production in 1999, implementing the compound as its main inflator propellant. It is the only air bag supplier to use the substance, which has proven especially dangerous when exposed to moisture.

Federal regulators have ordered Takata to preserve the faulty air bag inflators for testing and for use as evidence in a federal investigation and private litigation cases, according to Reuters

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