Korean Air begins inspections on Airbus planes after two incidents

SEOUL– Korean Air Co., South Korea’s top air carrier, said Wednesday it has launched a thorough special safety audit of its Airbus A330 fleet after two incidents involving the same model in less than two weeks.

The move came after an A330 plane, carrying 162 passengers and 11 crew members, overran the runway at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport on the island of the Philippines on Oct. 23. No casualties were reported, but the underbelly of the plane was badly damaged.

On Sunday, another A330 plane bound for Sydney flew back to Incheon, South Korea’s main gateway west of Seoul, less than two hours after its takeoff due to an engine problem.

Korean Air said it will temporarily take 24 Airbus A330s out of service in phases for an intensive inspection that began Tuesday, adding it will retire six old Airbus A330s from its fleet, though it did not provide a specific time frame.

“Korean Air is aware of the gravity of the recent events involving our A330 aircraft,” Korean Air President Woo Kee-hong said in a meeting with the transport minister and other top executives of South Korean airlines on aviation safety.

“To address concerns and secure a safe operation system, we will carry out a full-scale, comprehensive safety inspection of our A330 fleet and seek an independent, external safety consultation.”

Korea Air said it will introduce a total of 90 new aircraft — 10 Boeing 787-9, 20 Boeing 787-10, 30 Boeing 737-8 and 30 Airbus A321neo — by 2028 while phasing out six Boeing 777-200ERs and six A330s.

The carrier said it will invest an additional 1.4 trillion won (US$1 billion) and 64 billion won next year in fleet and engine modernization, respectively, compared with 540 billion won in fleet modernization, engine overhaul and flight simulators in 2022.

At the meeting, Transport Minister Won Hee-ryong urged the air carriers to have special measures to ensure similar accidents do not recur as he called for through investigations on the two recent accidents.

“Airlines must review everything from the ‘zero-base’ and start over with an attitude for an overhaul,” Won said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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