A new report from the consortium of 10 automakers investigating the nightmarish Takata airbag failures have found three root causes to be at fault. After looking them over, it really sounds like one key failure.
The Independent Testing Coalition (ITC) blames the airbags’ ammonium nitrate propellant, poorly-made inflator assemblies made by Takata to house the propellant, and the heat and humidity that those assemblies allowed to reach the propellant, as Automotive News reports.
In other words, Takata’s inflator assemblies were supposed to keep heat and humidity from getting to the volatile inflators. The assemblies didn’t do their job, and the inflators got hot and wet and very bad things happened.
How many of these assemblies were bad? Last year Takata deemed 23.4 million of them defective.
Aerospace and defense contractor Orbital ATK performed the testing for ITC, and AN reports that Takata agreed in a statement that Orbital’s findings matched Takata’s own internal tests.
Leader of the ITC investigation David Kelly did note, however, that some issues with the exploding airbags were beyond ITC’s reach. Kelly noted that ITC could not come to any distinct conclusions about the most recently recalled Takata airbags that had a drying agent in their propellant, and that ITC couldn’t conclude if ammonium nitrate propellant itself is hopelessly and unavoidably dangerous in and of itself.
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