KAL to help produce a better Olympic bobsled

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KAL to help produce a better Olympic bobsled

Korean Air Lines, the nation’s largest airline, said yesterday it will help design a sled with local universities for the Korean bobsleigh team to use in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Gangwon.

The affiliate of Hanjin Group said it will form a consortium with experts from Korea National Sport University, Sungkyunkwan University and Inha University to make the body of the sled and its runners.

The consortium will form a team next month and will start its work after May. After building a prototype, it will test it from November to February 2015. More development will be done before the final product is released before the 2018 Winter Olympics.

KAL said that the project will be an example of industry-university collaboration and will help the development of the Korean sports industry.

“Bobsleds are manufactured with carbon materials, which are also used in aircraft,” KAL said in a release, “and since aerodynamics are also crucial, KAL’s technology and know-how developed in the aerospace business will shine in sports science.”

In Europe, automakers like BMW and Ferrari have contributed to the development of sleds, but this will be the first time that an airline gets involved, according to KAL. The company said its technology and experience of participating in the development of aircraft like the Boeing B787 and Airbus A350 will also help.

KAL said that the decision was supported by Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, who is chief vice chairman of the Korean Olympic Committee. Cho played a pivotal role in Pyeongchang’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Games.

Cho ordered KAL to get involved after hearing that the Korean bobsleigh team, which marked its best finish in 18th place at the Sochi Winter Olympics last month, has been facing difficulties in practicing with sleds made from the Netherlands.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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