SEOUL, Mar. 14 (Korea Bizwire) — Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea’s largest airline, said Thursday that it will not operate B737 Max 8s to be delivered in the coming months until safety issues are fully settled.
Korean Air plans to add six B737 Max 8s to its fleet this year, with the first delivery scheduled in May. The national flag carrier ordered a total of 30 B737 Max 8 planes.
Earlier this week, Eastar Jet, one of South Korea’s budget carriers, also said it will voluntarily halt flights of its two B737 Max 8s due to rising worries about the airworthiness of the planes.
The company is the only airline in the country that operates the jet. It plans to add four additional B737 Max 8s to its fleet this year.
The measures by Korean Air and Eastar Jet come as the same plane, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed on Sunday, with another flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashing in October 2018.
The plane is the latest addition to the best selling B737 family of commercial jets and is more fuel efficient than all of its predecessors. Preliminary reports indicated problems involving the newly installed Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), as well as malfunction of the angle of attack vane. MCAS, an automated flight protection system, has been incorporated to deal with the larger engines used on the jets and their placement on the wings.
Other local airlines, Jeju Air Co. and T’way Air Co., have all signed contracts to add the B737 Max 8 to their fleets.
Jeju Air has ordered a total of 40 B737 Max 8s, with the first set to enter service in 2022. T’way is awaiting delivery of four B737 Max 8s this year, according to the companies.
T’way, meanwhile, said it will not operate the B737 Max 8 planes until all safety related concerns have been fully handled.