September 2, 2008

South Korea Marked High on Aviation Safety

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

Seoul, 2 September: South Korea received top marks for aviation safety from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which can facilitate code sharing with foreign carriers and the expansion of flight routes, the government said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said the country received a safety system compliance rating of 98.82 per cent in the latest evaluation, up sharply from the 79.79 per cent received in 2000.

It said the numbers are higher than the average 96-per cent compliance standard established by countries with excellent safety standards, including Canada, the United States and some European Union members.

The average for the 190 ICAO members that have received the safety audit stands at 55.77 per cent.

ICAO started the audit programme in 1995 in response to a rising number of aviation-related accidents worldwide. At first only countries that wanted to be evaluated accepted the audit, but mandatory inspection was extended to all members in 1998.

The review currently covers 9,608 operational categories and safety checklists designed to gauge the safety of a country's aviation sector, including pilot training, flight operations and aircraft maintenance.

The ministry said a memorandum of understanding was reached with ICAO in June 2007, with the latter conducting various examination and on-site reviews in the following months.

The low marking received in the past adversely affected local flag carriers, hindering code sharing operations with foreign airlines and making it difficult to increase flights to some countries.

In the case of the United States, the low mark caused Washington to advise government officials and military personnel not to use South Korean airlines.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0543 2 Sep 08.

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