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Six Transportation Safety Experts Join Takata Air Bag Panel

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With at least five deaths and over 100 injuries allegedly connected to Takata air bag defects, several organizations are now looking into the issue, in the hopes of finding out why it’s happening, and to prevent it from happening again.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Takata has formed its own independent review panel to look into the company’s current practices and procedures, with the goal of producing a public report at the end of the investigation.

Takata Forms Panel to Improve Business Procedures

When Takata announced it would form the panel in December 2014, they appointed former Secretary of Transportation and White House Chief of Staff Samuel Skinner to lead the initiative. They also established early on that this panel would not be searching for causes of Takata air bag explosions, since other groups—including a U.S. regulatory investigation—are looking into that. (Takata has stated that it’s working with outside scientists to zero in on why some of the air bags are rupturing upon deployment.)

Instead, this panel will investigate the following:

• Takata’s current manufacturing processes, policies, and practices
• Takata’s internal structure and personnel
• The way the company currently makes decisions
• Chemical makeup of the inflator propellant
• Takata’s air bag inflators
• Takata’s Mexico factory and other factories

The panel’s end goal is to improve the way Takata does business, to help prevent issues like the air bag ruptures from happening in the future. “Takata has an opportunity here,” Skinner said in an interview, “to look at how they do business and see if they can do it better.”

The panel is expected to make recommendations for how Takata can improve internal and external reporting of concerns about quality or safety of their air bags; how they can integrate quality and safety principles in supply, manufacturing, and delivery; and how they can better coordinate all aspects of quality and safety issues on a global basis.

Six Experts Named to Takata Panel

On January 20, 2015, Skinner announced a list of six experts who will serve on the panel. They include:

1. Marion Blakey: Chairwoman of the National Traffic Safety Board from 2001 to 2002; administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration from 2002 to 2007; currently president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association.
2. Nelda J. Connors: Former executive at Tyco International, Eaton Group, and Fluid Power Group from 2002 to 2011; Director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; former Ford Motor Company executive; worked in the automotive industry in Japan.
3. John C. Landgraf: Executive vice president of Abbott Laboratories; has experience leading manufacturing and quality assurance.
4. Dr. Julio M. Ottino: Dean of the school of engineering, Northwestern University; PhD. In chemical engineering.
5. Jeffrey Runge: Former administrator of the NHTSA (2001 to 2005); assistant secretary for Health Affairs and chief medical officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2005 to 2008); expertise on road transportation safety.
6. John W. Snow: Served as 73rd Secretary of Treasury under President George W. Bush (2003 to 2006); assistant general counsel for the Department of Transportation (1972 to 1973); administrator of the NHTSA in 1976; Secretary of Treasury

This panel has been compared to the one set up by Toyota in 2010, to address the sudden acceleration defect. Skinner has stated that the panel’s work will be independent, and not subject to approval by Takata before publication of the final report.

The publication of the report is expected within a matter of months.