There is usually nothing good to report about any accident however minor. Loss of life especially when it is least expected is something the human beings have to live with at times. The Korean 801 accident was one of those uneventful disastrous accidents that took place almost two decades ago. The fact that it was under the care of an expert pilot made it even more quizzical as to what exactly made him land the well capable plane on a terrain. This paper’s main objective is to try and explain the condition that the flight was in during the accident (Books llc, 2010). This will help in finding out if the accident was inevitable (NTSB, 2014). It will also discuss on the main possible causes that would have led to the accident. There are reports about this accident on the national transportation safety board (NTSB). This will help in figuring out how the investigation was done. Lastly the paper shall explain the whole incident as it took place and probably relate it to the possible human factors and air legislation.
Korean flight 801 was a Boeing 747-300 and it was operated by the Korean air company. On board it had a total of 253 people which were 2 pilots, a flight engineer, a total of 14 flight attendants and 237 passengers. Out of all those people; only 23 passengers and 3 cabin crew members survived albeit with serious injuries. This means that the rest 228 people died on the spot. According to NTSB report; the plane was destroyed by the impact force and the fire that erupted after the crash (NTSB, 2014). The plane was regularly scheduled to transport passengers in the US airspace under the Federal Regulations part 129.
The flight 801 left Seoul-Kimpo International airport which is currently known as the Gimpo Airport to Guam. It was under the expert care of Captain Yong-chul a 42 year old who had been awarded for flight safety in negotiating a 747 failed engine. Although earlier during the flight it had experience a bit of turbulence, there were no other reported cases. One of the major issues that the flight faced while it was about to land was the poor visibility caused by the recent rains in Guam. Usually the flights should use the Instrument landing system but in this case, it was not in service. This made the crew alternate to another manual mode of landing which required them to be much more in control. The visibility did not help much as the crew was constantly blinded on their way down due to bad weather. This made them loose the sight of the run way and they later landed 5 km from it on Nimitz Hill which was 201 m high (Diane publishing, n.d). The recorded conversation among the flight crew was that of fatigue due to short hours of rest that they are given.
The investigation carried out was involving the general performance of the flight crew in terms of the procedures that they applied when landing and their training in piloting (Books, 2010). The investigation also involved the response towards the emergency and the capability of Korean Civil Aviation Bureau. There are several recommendations made on this incident to the FAA.
The incident was that of CFIT which means that the flight was directed towards a terrain unintentionally by a well capable captain when the plane had no shown no problems. In a case like this of Korean 801; the captain had worked with the airline for more than 10 years and he was well respected in the field. On the other hand, the plane was a $60 million worth jet which had no reported issues. Therefore in such a case; the problem is usually with the flight crew and the team on the ground. According to NTSB; the captain failed in his duties to adequately give a brief report on the approach that he was taking. The co-pilot and the engineer did not verify his move either which drastically deteriorated the issue further (Fredrick et al, 2010). On the other hand the fatigue and the inadequate training by the Korea air mainly contributed to the reported issues. The FAA also failed in that they inhibited the minimum safe altitude warning system (MSAW) and failed to manage it all together.
The flight 801 accident was an unfortunate case of negligence, fatigue and inadequate training as well as fatal weather. It could have been avoided if only the captains were alert enough. The MSAW was supposed to warn the flight crew on the minimum altitude but it did not which is mainly the FAA responsibility. Although the commercial jets have been killing people since their invention; it doesn’t have to continue with the same trend. Pilots should learn from those mistakes like that of Korea 801 so that they will not repeat them in the future (NTSB, 2014).