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Blame game over Korean Air accident

Posted May. 30, 2016 07:21,   

Updated May. 30, 2016 07:57


At Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Friday, 319 passengers and crew members onboard a Korean Air flight were forced to evacuate after its left engine caught fire. The jetliner aborted takeoff some 600 meters from the point where it began accelerating, with its engine found in flames and smoke, but its tire marks were found a further 700 meters ahead. If the plane had exceeded the decision speed (V1), it could have skidded from the runway. If its engine had caught fire after take-off, it could have resulted in a catastrophe.

A preliminary investigation by the Japanese Transport Safety Board revealed that dozens of turbine blades towards the back of the left engine had been shattered. The Japanese agency said that a bird strike was unlikely, given that no dead bird was found in the engine. Suspected causes of the accident include poor maintenance and engine defect. The exact cause will be revealed after the analysis of the black box and engine.


Korean Air flights have suspended takeoff or made emergency landings for five times over the past two years. The 2015 parliamentary inspection found that Korean Air had reduced its maintenance budget by nearly 110 billion Korean won (approx. 93 million U.S. dollars) from 942.7 billion won (799 million dollars) in 2012 to 833.4 billion won (706 million dollars) in 2014 and cut maintenance hours per flight by 8.3 percent over the same period.

Korean Air should recognize that the recent accident is at least partly attributable to its internal conflicts. Since February, Korean Air's pilot union has been taking action to disrupt the company’s operations, including slowdown. The union’s website praises the pilot for his excellent response, while it blames the management, calling the accident “the final warning from god.” Such a blame game is quite worrisome.


On May 26 when the accident occurred, the G7 Summit was being held in Japan. If the accident had resulted in a catastrophe, it could have brought international shame on Korea.