[EDITORIALS]Aviation Safety's Shameful StoryThe U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed Korea's civil aviation authority as category 2, indicating a big step backward in safety. Although the government made a noise to avoid such a dishonorable rating, after the FAA pointed out that Korea had been insufficient in meeting standards at the second evaluation last month, hope has vanished and now shame fill us.
The poor rating of Korea's aviation situation cannot be blamed on anything else except a troubled administration. Even though frequent accidents involving Korean airlines have occurred in Korea and overseas, and even though many authorities have warned Korea to improve its safety, nothing has been done. Last year, the International Civil Aviation Organization urged Seoul to reinforce aviation safety and the FAA continued to check on the situation. However, the government finally ended with the worst outcome possible after employing lukewarm countermeasures. The FAA urged the government to hire more aviation specialists, but nothing was done.
The FAA pointed in its final evaluation that aviation specialists in Korea lacked training and that a revision of the Aviation Act has been delayed. The Transportation Ministry has criticized the National Assembly for delaying the approval of bills. It is deplorable that the lawmakers neglected their duties while bickering among themselves. But the ministry cannot get away from its responsibilities by criticizing them.
With the poor rating, Korea's public image has been degraded. Domestic airlines will be restricted from code-sharing with American airlines and to operate new or additional routes to American destinations. Some analysts already have estimated that Korean Air and Asiana Airlines will end up with 220 billion won ($172 million) in combined losses a year.
The government explained that the rating can be upgraded within six months by making improvements, but that is still a far hope at this moment. The government should find and punish those responsible for the situation. If we fail to lock the stable door even after the horse was stolen, we will fail to overcome the disgrace of degraded ratings, and we might be telling the world that Seoul is a third-rate government.