Gov’t to carry out safety in­spec­tions at lo­cal air­lines

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kang Se­ung-woo [email protected]­re­

In the wake of a series of parts fail­ures in air­craft op­er­ated by lo­cal air­lines, the gov­ern­ment will carry out emer­gency safety checks on all the car­ri­ers next month.

Of­fi­cials from the Min­istry of Land, In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port held an emer­gency meet­ing with ex­ec­u­tives and en­gi­neers from the nine car­ri­ers Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss ways to im­prove avi­a­tion safety.

The meet­ing comes five days af­ter a Jeju Air plane made an emer­gency re­turn to its de­par­ture point following a de­fect in its au­topi­lot. The lead­ing bud­get air­liner’s B737-800NG jet took off from Gimhae In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Bu­san for Seoul, but 10 min­utes later, an au­topi­lot warn­ing light was ac­ti­vated, lead­ing flight at­ten­dants to tell pas­sen­gers to pre­pare for a pos­si­ble emer­gency land­ing. The air­craft landed at Gimhae 44 min­utes following take off, af­ter cir­cling the air­port.

A fuel valve prob­lem in a Korean Air plane de­layed a flight, Oct. 25, while an en­gine of an Asiana Air­lines air­craft caught fire dur­ing test­ing Oct. 18.

Starting Novem­ber, avi­a­tion in­spec­tors will con­duct a two-step com­pre­hen­sive safety check on the coun­try’s two full-ser­vice and seven low-cost car­ri­ers be­fore the win­ter peak sea­son in De­cem­ber, the trans­port min­istry said.

Dur­ing Novem­ber, the in­spec­tion will first cover emer­gency re­sponse train­ing for pi­lots, the main­te­nance of air­craft and parts prone to fail­ure, and op­er­a­tional con­trol in the event of ad­verse weather.

Af­ter­wards, they will check on how well air­lines are following safety man­age­ment pro­ce­dures, con­duct health ex­am­i­na­tions on crewmem­bers, and look into com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­to­cols be­tween pi­lots and flight at­ten­dants in emer­gen­cies. These re­views will take place by the end of the year.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Jeju Air said the bud­get car­rier will de­vise its own mea­sures by the end of next month to make up for the botched re­sponse to the emer­gency re­turn.

The min­istry and the air­lines also talked about is­sues linked to Boe­ing 737 NG planes.

Cur­rently, nine 737 NGs have been grounded for cracks in the spars that at­tach their wings to the fuse­lage. In Septem­ber, the U.S. Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued an order for air­lines to in­spect their Boe­ing 737 NG planes af­ter the man­u­fac­turer alerted it to the crack is­sue.

There are 150 737 NGs in Korea and the trans­port min­istry or­dered in­spec­tions of 42 of them which had ac­cu­mu­lated over 30,000 flights, with nine turn­ing out to have the cracks. Safety checks on the re­main­ing planes are set to be com­pleted in the com­ing months.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­istry, Boe­ing en­gi­neers will come to Korea next month to re­pair them, and af­ter­ward lo­cal avi­a­tion in­spec­tors will check whether they are safe to fly.

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