중앙데일리

Top safety ranking is restored by U.S. to Korean aviation

Dec 06,2001
Korea's aviation safety level has been restored to "Category I," three months and 20 days after the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States downgraded it to "Category II."

Minister of Construction and Transportation Lim In-taik reported Thursday that he had been officially informed by the FAA to elevate the safety level of Korean carriers. The upgrade frees domestic carriers from various restrictions imposed on their U.S. routes.

The transportation ministry took prompt measures to fix the problems pointed out by the FAA and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

It revised the Aviation Act and issued Aviation Operator Certifications for the airline companies.

The ministry recruited an additional 45 air-safety specialists and improved their training. It invited trainers from the FAA to give lectures, and it will establish next year a training center to be managed by Boeing.

Korean Air launched preparations to reopen routes to Guam and Saipan, which had been closed after a 1997 crash in Guam, and to restore its code-sharing ties with Delta Airlines.

Asiana Airlines will make preparations to restore code-sharing with the U.S. carrier American Airlines, which had been suspended in August.

The financial worth or the restored ranking to the two domestic carriers is expected to be over 200 billion won ($153 million) a year. The carriers strengthened promotion of their U.S. routes.

The main cause for the lowering of Korea's air-safety rating in August was foot-dragging by officials in mending the problems pointed out by the FAA and ICAO in 1999. The former transportation minister, Oh Jang-seop, resigned to accept responsibility for the failure.

Specialists urged that Korea continue to strengthen its security measures, in the light of the U.S. terrorist attacks Sept. 11.

The establishment of an independent body that looks into airline accidents and a new aviation agency integrating the transportation ministry's Aviation Bureau to supervise overall air safety is also urgent, the specialists said.



by Kim Chang-woo




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