South Korean Court Rules Asiana Airlines 45 Day Suspension

David Lee, Feb. 19, 2016, 8:08 a.m.

A local court approved Friday the transport ministry's suspension order to South Korea's No. 2 carrier for the crash landing of its jet at San Francisco International Airport. The Seoul Administrative Court dismissed a suit filed by Asiana Airlines against the transportation minister seeking a revocation of the government's decision to suspend the carrier's Incheon-San Francisco route for 45 days.

Asiana flight 214, a B777-200ER wide-body jet, crashed while making a landing in July 2013, resulting in three deaths and 180 needing medical treatment out of the 307 people who were on board. After conducting an investigation, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said the crash was mainly due to pilot error and that Asiana had failed to properly train the flight crew members.

Still, the carrier protested against the suspension order saying it would lead to some 16.2 million won (US$13 million) in lost sales. The company is currently operating the flights after winning an injunction to postpone the execution of the order until it received a court decision on the case. Ruling in favor of the ministry, the court said one of the pilots barely had any experience flying the B777 model and the other was on his first flight as an instructor.

"Considering their (the pilots') flight experience and the difficulty of taking off and landing, Asiana failed to fulfill its duty of appointing and supervising pilots," it said. The court said other factors such as loopholes in the safety measures of the plane and errors in the airport's landing guidance cannot be an excuse to justify the pilots' faults. Asiana Airlines said it will review the ruling to decide whether or not to appeal.

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