South Korea Has A Better Aviation Safety Ranking Than The US

asiana flight 214 fire interior seatsThe burned-out interior of Asiana Flight 214

The crash landing earlier this month of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco called to mind a dark period in South Korea’s aviation history, when a series of deadly crashes on Korean Air planes led Delta and Air France to suspend the airline from their code-sharing alliance.

“The airline was ostracized by a lot of people in the global aviation community,” airline pilot, blogger, and author of Cockpit Confidential Patrick Smith said in an interview.

In response, South Korea completely revised its civil aviation system, working to eliminate the downsides of an authoritarian culture and improve safety standards.

The results were clear: In 2002, Delta and Air France welcomed Korean Air back to the fold. The Department of defence lifted the ban on its employees’ using the airline, according to the New York Times.

The best mark of approval came from the International Civil Aviation organisation, the air transport arm of the United Nations, which gave the country a perfect score in a 2008 safety audit, covering categories including licensing, operations, airworthinesss, and accident investigation.

That’s well above the global average, and better than the United States, based on the most recent audit numbers (for South Korea, 2008, and for the U.S., from 2005-2007):

south korea aviation safety audit information

In response to the Asiana crash landing, whose cause has not yet been determined by investigators, South Korea’s transport ministry ordered the country’s airlines to beef up safety measures and add training for pilots and crew.

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