After chopper hit apartment, new accident rules

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After chopper hit apartment, new accident rules

Following the July Asiana Airlines accident in San Francisco and a helicopter smashing into an apartment building in Seoul, the government decided to impose heavier punishments on carriers who suffer accidents.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced a so-called aircraft safety solution package yesterday to stiffen suspensions of operations after accidents and raise fines.

Under current law, aircraft accidents that result in fewer than five deaths call for a suspension of operations of the carrier of up to 30 days, which the government usually downgraded to a one-off penalty of 500 million won ($471,700).

Now the government will impose a 30-day suspension to raise a sense of accountability among air carriers.

Meanwhile, carriers with good safety records will receive incentive in obtaining more flight routes.

In addition, local pilots will be required to complete extra training to prepare for emergencies and to be re-evaluated for their aviation skills.

The ministry will also designate foreign airports with difficult geographies, where departures and landings are difficult, and raise the level of experience needed for pilots flying to them. Currently, there are 20 foreign airports with such designations, according to the ministry.

Low-cost carriers with tighter budgets will be required to raise their employment standards by adding more test categories when hiring pilots. Smaller carriers will also be monitored financially, and carriers with deteriorating finances could face separate investigations.

The commission said it is also looking into building common facilities including a maintenance hangar and general training center that small carriers can use.

The government will raise the bar for operating permits for new carriers. To obtain an air operator’s certificate, a company’s financial status and investment plan would be added to the current 1,300 safety criteria. Mandatory training will be also extended when pilots start flying different aircraft types. The government will set a minimum number of pilots and co-pilots small carriers must employ.

BY KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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