The South Korean transport ministry has instructed local airlines to perform safety checks on their Boeing 737 Max planes. The preemptive measure, despite South Korean carriers operating the B737 Max 8 variant, is aimed at ensuring the safety and structural integrity of the fleet.
As of the directive, South Korea’s five airlines collectively operate 14 Boeing 737 Max 8s. The distribution among the carriers is as follows:
Korean Air Co.: 5 B737 Max 8s
Eastar Jet: 4 B737 Max 8s
T’way Air Co.: 2 B737 Max 8s
Jeju Air Co.: 2 B737 Max 8s
Jin Air: 1 B737 Max 8
The safety directive follows the recent emergency landing of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9, carrying 171 passengers, which experienced a cabin panel blowout. The incident led to several passengers sustaining injuries when the rear mid-cabin exit door blew off shortly after takeoff from Portland.
Despite South Korean carriers not operating the B737 Max 9 variant, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport has taken a preemptive stance. The order includes checking for structural defects in the Boeing 737 Max 8s and ensuring the tight attachment of the fuselage and the door.
A ministry official clarified that the B737 Max 9 and Max 8 are distinct planes but underscored the proactive approach to prevent potential incidents in the Max 8 variant. The safety checks will be meticulous, addressing any concerns about the structural integrity of the aircraft.
It’s noteworthy that South Korea grounded the Boeing 737 Max in March 2019 following two fatal crashes involving the aircraft. The ban was lifted in November 2021 after addressing safety concerns, paving the way for the resumption of operations with the B737 Max planes.
The directive from the South Korean transport ministry demonstrates a commitment to passenger safety and a proactive approach to mitigate potential risks. Even though the B737 Max 8s have not experienced the same issues as the Max 9 variant, the comprehensive safety checks align with global aviation standards and contribute to assuring the public of the aircraft’s safety.
Boeing has been working collaboratively with aviation authorities globally to address safety concerns associated with the 737 Max series. The incidents and subsequent safety measures underscore the importance of continuous vigilance and proactive safety measures in the aviation industry.