By Miyoung Kim and Hyunjoo Jin
SEOUL, July 9 South Korea is considering
tightening regulations for pilots seeking certification to
convert to flying new aircraft after the fatal crash of an
Asiana Boeing 777 plane in San Francisco, a government source
said on Tuesday.
Asiana Airlines Inc's chief executive also said
on Tuesday the carrier plans to beef up simulated "non-precision
airport approach" training as the role of its pilots on the
crash comes under increasing scrutiny.
The Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 was flying 25 percent slower
than normal for a descent in the run-up to Saturday's crash,
according to U.S. National Transportation Safety Board
Chairwoman Deborah Hersman.
Lee Kang-kuk, the pilot at the controls of Asiana's 214
flight to San Francisco, was training on Boeing 777s, and was
making his first attempt to land the jet at San Francisco
airport. His supervisor was making his first flight as a
"This accident made us rethink our regulations policy," the
government official dealing with aviation regulations told
"We are already reviewing various measures and gathering
information to tighten regulations (on issuing type
certification to pilots converting to a new aircraft)," the
source said. The person declined to be named as the plan has yet
to be finalised.
The crash killed two teenage Chinese passengers and injured
more than 180 other people.
Seoul has tightened aviation regulations since a plane
belonging to flagship carrier Korean Air crashed in
Guam in 1997, killing 228 people and later prompting a downgrade
of South Korea's aviation rating by the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration to category 2.
The rating was restored to Category 1 in December 2001,
enabling Korean carriers to open new routes, which they were not
allowed to do under the lower category.
The government source said South Korea will also widen
inspection to include more long-haul flights and routes to
overseas airports such as San Francisco.
"From this year, we've started a new programme that includes
our inspector join(ing) the cockpit to monitor pilots' operation
to long-haul destinations and 13 airports with tricky landing
environment such as San Francisco," the source said.
San Francisco airport is surrounded by water, which can make
distances harder to judge.
TRAINING PROGRAMME SEEN ADEQUATE
Asiana chief executive Yoon Young-doo has refused to blame
pilot error for the crash and said on Tuesday: "The two pilots
on the plane have enough qualifications, having flown to San
Francisco 33 times and 29 times respectively."
However, he added that Asiana planned to strengthen
simulated training, especially for non-precision airport
approach, referring to a visual landing, as was used by the
flight on Saturday.
Lee, the pilot under training, was experienced, with almost
10,000 hours flying time.
Currently Asiana pilots have to fly 10 flights and a total
of 60 hours on a 777 to complete its training programme, a
spokeswoman for the airline said.
Lee had completed eight flights and 43 hours.
His round-trip to San Francisco would have given him the
remaining 2 flights and 17 hours to make him fully qualified to
fly the double-engine jet.
Landing is part of the training programme and it is common
practise for pilots in training to land under supervision as
part of the type certification process.
Jung Yun-sick, a former Asiana pilot and now a professor at
Jungwon University, told Reuters that any new measures were
unlikely to increase the number of training hours for pilots
trying to shift to a new aircraft.
"The requirement used to be 60 flights of a total of 100
hours some 15 years ago when I was with Asiana," he said.
"It was quite intensive at the time as they didn't have much
data on what is really appropriate level of training. But now
they have enough data for this and the current level is what is
generally accepted globally."