Rising Concerns Over Aviation Safety Prompt Special Inspections for 11 Airlines Starting July 1

(Travel Leisure News=Lee Jungchan) The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has announced special safety inspections for 11 national airlines starting July 1, in response to growing public anxiety over recent aircraft malfunctions and delays.

Korean Air Incident Highlights Safety Concerns

On June 22, a Korean Air flight bound for Taiwan had to make an emergency return to Incheon International Airport due to a mechanical defect. Approximately 50 minutes after takeoff, the aircraft experienced an issue with its pressurization system, compelling it to descend rapidly from 30,000 feet (about 9,100 meters) to 9,000 feet. While there were no serious injuries, 15 passengers suffered from ear discomfort and minor injuries.

Korean Air has suggested that the pressurization failure might stem from a defect in the Boeing 737 model itself and is currently collaborating with Boeing to investigate. “The component, typically replaced annually, failed after just 11 months,” remarked Woo Kee-hong, President of Korean Air. In response, Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Park Sang-woo noted, “It should be replaced more frequently.”

T’way Air Under Scrutiny

T’way Air is also facing scrutiny following multiple incidents. Between June 13 and 17, the airline encountered five delays, escalating dissatisfaction not only with T’way Air but also with all low-cost carriers (LCCs) as the peak travel season approaches. On June 13, a flight from Incheon to Osaka was delayed for 11 hours, prompting nearly 200 passengers to cancel their plans, with some experiencing panic attacks and collapsing. One affected passenger recounted, “We were delayed for two hours on the plane, and someone had a panic attack and collapsed while trying to disembark.” Additionally, a Bangkok to Cheongju flight was delayed for 20 hours, contributing to four significant delays in just three days.

Government Response and Future Actions

In response to these incidents, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport convened airline CEOs at Korean Air’s hangar and announced plans to commence special safety inspections on 11 national airlines next month. “Trust is paramount. Without confidence in flight safety, the entire aviation industry could collapse,” emphasized Minister Park.

From July 1 to 26, the ministry will deploy approximately 30 safety inspectors to each airline to scrutinize maintenance practices, parts management, and emergency protocols. This thorough inspection aims to identify the root causes of recent incidents and restore public trust in air travel.

Ensuring Future Safety is Paramount

As Korean Air prepares for its merger with Asiana Airlines and T’way Air expands its European routes, these airlines must prioritize safety management in response to recent events. With last year’s air passenger numbers exceeding 100 million for the first time in four years, and projections indicating further growth this year, both regulatory authorities and airlines must thoroughly assess their safety infrastructure to prevent minor errors from escalating into major accidents.

By upholding stringent safety standards, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport seeks to ensure passenger safety and bolster the reliability of the aviation industry.