[EDITORIALS]A New Type of Aviation Disaster

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[EDITORIALS]A New Type of Aviation Disaster

It is shocking to learn that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration gave a preliminary failing grade to aviation safety conditions in Korea. The final assessment will not be decided until July 16, but the news is shaming and alarming.

We are surprised that our aviation authorities received failing grades in all eight categories being evaluated. They include manpower and professionally qualified personnel at its headquarters; objectivity in investigating aviation accidents; satisfactory systems for evaluating pilot candidates and educational programs for pilots. The government's regulation of airline safety is in complete disarray.

If we get the same grades in the next evaluation, Korea will be designated as a "Grade 2" country, which means that we are in breach of aviation safety. If this were to happen, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines would be forbidden from opening new routes in the United States, and operations on existing routes would be restricted.

It is shameful that we might be labeled as having the same safety level as less-developed countries. If our aviation system cannot be trusted, we do not know whether Incheon International Airport and the World Cup next year will be able to draw foreign guests.

Even after the inauguration of a "people's government," 10 airline accidents have occurred, with damages exceeding 180 billion won ($138 million). Every time an accident occurs, the government pledges to strengthen aviation safety, but here is the result. If it is true that the International Civil Aviation Organization reported similar problems a year ago, it can only mean that the government has been derelict in its aviation safety duties.

Since the FAA's evaluation was made public, the government has been scrambling to recruit more professionals and to amend related laws. Even if that is only a quick fix, it should persuade the evaluators not to award the lower grade. However, the cause and responsibility for the present fiasco should be described. Only then can more than 100,000 airline passengers daily board planes feeling safe and secure.
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