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KAL whoops!

Old 17th Sep 2002, 12:08
  #1 (permalink)  
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Thumbs down KAL whoops!

Well it seems that KAL have had another flapless take-off on the B747-400.
Also a crew which ignored the take-off config warning and couldn't raise the gear after rotation. Instead of returning to Dallas they diverted to.......LAX running short of fuel as they couldn't calculate what amount of fuel they would use with the gear down.
How about the B747-400 which held over New York and wouldn't divert because they couldn 't understand that JFK was closed. They eventually deemed to ask a travellling U.S. crewman to the cockpit to liase with ATC in English, prompting an immediate diversion, landing with 9000lbs of fuel (yes pounds!). They would have continued to hold until it all went quiet....really.
How about the almost weekly incidents such as crossing active runways when not authorised and they're active. Because they guess what their clearance might be.
Or how about the compulsary Berlitz English courses which the KAL crews are made to complete, but it's just materialised that a large percentage were caught cheating.
Not to mention the houhah over the misunderstanding in Alaska on 9/11/01.
Or the A330 which flew through a thunderstorm severely damaging the airframe, smashing the forward windscreens causing an engine fire warning. The aircraft was so badly damaged that they couldn't pressurise. Yet they still flew 250nms over water from their Chinese departure airport back to Seoul.
Or the constant CFIT warnings due to misunderstanding of altimeter settings. For example ending up at 800ft agl at 11nms from the airport...Tashkent.
I mention these because a catastrophe is just around the corner. It will happen, it's just when, and it will be bad.
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Old 17th Sep 2002, 13:10
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Does anyone know if KAL takes on ex-pats or what the job situation is like over in Seoul. Just a very preliminary enquiry at the moment but any info would be greatly appreciated.
Have the Shed, Dornier 328, F27 and Airbus A320 on the licience.
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Old 17th Sep 2002, 14:59
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They have expats now of course, but the latest news from SEL is that the foreign crews are to be wound down over the next two years or so.
Perhaps not good news.
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Old 17th Sep 2002, 17:42
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Well if they wind down the expats, then it will only be a matter of time. Wonder if they will be allowed to fly into the states? Remember Guam.
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Old 17th Sep 2002, 21:02
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Post Anchorage Daily News story.

High Alert
For 30 tense minutes on morning of East Coast attacks, officials feared KAL jet was hijacked, bound for Anchorage

By Zaz Hollander
Anchorage Daily News

(Published: September 8, 2002)
For about 30 minutes, Alaska's top military commander believed Korean Air Flight 85 might actually be hijacked and closing in on a target in Anchorage.

En route to a refueling stop in the state's largest city, the Seoul-New York flight with more than 200 people on board had already sent out one hijack message.

Then about a half-hour later, the pilot punched in a second.

7500. 7500. 7500.

The four-digit international hijack code flashed on radar scopes before the eyes of baffled and worried military and civilian air-traffic controllers.

Two planes had already destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The Pentagon burned around the wreckage of a third hijacked jet. The debris of a fourth smoldered in a western Pennsylvania field.

Along with the rest of the world, Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz woke up that morning to a terrorist plot to use commercial airliners as weapons. Anything could happen. And suddenly, a fifth possible hijacking cruised into his territory.

"Given what had happened on the East Coast, it was entirely plausible to me this was an analog on the West Coast," said Schwartz, head of the Alaskan Command. "So naturally, we took this seriously."

At the time of this Sept. 11 incident, little was publicly disclosed about the wayward signals from the Korean pilot. The airline and flight crew have kept mum about what happened that day, when brief evacuations cleared hundreds from downtown Anchorage and Valdez, and F-15s streaked southwest to intercept the jet.

But recent interviews with Schwartz and Tim Crowley, an air-traffic controller, shed new light on the scramble that occurred from Washington, D.C., to Whitehorse, Yukon, as civilian and military forces reacted to the alarm that a hijacked jet might be aimed at Alaska.


The first inkling of a possible problem came about 8 a.m.

A technician with ARINC, an airline contractor in Maryland, who was scanning air-to-ground teletypes from jets for anything suspicious, spotted three chilling letters in a message from Flight 85, a Boeing 747 in the air near the Aleutian Islands.

Embedded in the text was the code for a hijacking: "HJK."

The company urgently dialed up the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C.

Within minutes, a rare mix of military and civilian controllers huddled in a windowless command center at Elmendorf Air Force Base, the strategic heart of Alaska's North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Normally, the FAA controls the airspace over Alaska. But on the morning of Sept. 11, the Department of Defense owned the skies.

Schwartz ordered Elmendorf Air Force Base to launch two F-15s armed with missiles.

Tail the aircraft, he told the fighter pilots. Follow Flight 85 at a position out of sight of passengers. Follow so the four-man flight crew -- and anyone in the cockpit with them -- couldn't see them either.


Flight 85 cruised toward Anchorage. Passengers on the long flight might have been looking forward to stretching their legs during the refueling stopover in Anchorage.

As soon as the Korean airliner flew into radio contact over land just west of Dillingham, a controller asked the pilot to confirm that first hijack signal.

The pilot punched in the "7500" hijack code.

Civilian air-traffic controllers saw the numbers start to flash on their scopes at the FAA's Air Route Traffic Control Center, a glossy box of a building a stone's throw from Elmendorf's Boniface Parkway entrance.

Controller Tim Crowley, a shop steward for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, had arrived at work around 8 a.m. The Korean incident was under way.

The center was heavy with that bizarre quiet that only comes when there's trouble.

He surveyed the room.

About a dozen controllers peered into four rows of radar scopes, busy clearing the skies, finding places to land dozens of inbound jets flying toward Anchorage after the military ordered all civilian aircraft grounded.

Crowley, serving in his union capacity rather than as a controller this day, mingled with them as a liaison, making sure controllers got clear instructions from supervisors and managers. He visited with union members in the break room. Some wanted to go home and be with their families. But nobody cursed, and nobody prayed.

A dozen managers and supervisors fielded frenzied phone calls at the center's watch desk, a Star Trek-type corner console stacked with computers that overlooks the controllers. Normally, three or four people supervise center activities from the desk.

The desk's eight phones rang with calls from FAA headquarters in D.C., from military brass, from airline companies tracking their jets.

FAA brass in Washington, D.C., first told controllers to let the plane land at Anchorage as planned. They were following an agency policy not to turn hijacked aircraft to keep hijackers from killing the crew and crashing the plane.

But after Flight 85 beamed that second hijack signal, another message came from the military.

Turn the plane.

A controller told Flight 85 to bear north of Anchorage by about 100 miles, fly east, then turn southeast for Yakutat, a fairly remote airport with a runway long enough to land the Boeing 747.

A controller gave the pilot his new heading. The pilot repeated the heading, confirming his plans to make the sweeping turn south.


Schwartz started to relax only when the plane turned. The pilot showed he was in control of the jet. Thirty minutes and about 300 air miles after the second hijack signal, the immediate threat had passed. The fighter jets would continue their escort.

But the ordeal wasn't over. No one had checked weather conditions in Yakutat. The weather there was deteriorating. It wasn't clear whether the airport's navigational aids or on-board maps were good enough to guide the Korean pilot over risky mountainous terrain.

Another complication arose. Civilian controllers discovered Flight 85 had less than an hour of gas. The pilot couldn't head back to Anchorage or make it to Fairbanks. The group at NORAD brainstormed other options. They settled on Whitehorse.

Schwartz contacted skeptical Canadian authorities about 9:45 a.m. He reminded them of the circumstances, and the jet's low fuel. They talked about how the plane, now over Alaska for an hour, wasn't acting like a hijacked aircraft.

Everybody agreed on Whitehorse.

Canadian police suggested downtown businesses and residents evacuate. Most did not. Locals who heard about the plane from police scanners eyed the skies as Flight 85 roared overhead with an escort of U.S. and Canadian fighters and landed without incident.

The evacuations were called off around 10 a.m.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police entered the cockpit and -- at gunpoint -- escorted the first officer off the plane. Later, the crew and passengers filed into the terminal. The plane later flew on to New York.

Korean Air administrator Michael Lim said last September that the pilot typed in the 7500 signal following instructions from air-traffic controllers. The first HJK signal? Possibly a question rather than a warning. ARINC staff say pilots can't type in question marks on the teletypes.

The confusion of the day made everything hard, Crowley said. Language problems with foreign pilots made things even harder.

The Korean Air incident wasn't the only one Elmendorf fighter pilots scrambled for that day. They also followed an Asiana cargo jet bound for Anchorage when the pilot refused to turn the plane as directed because he didn't understand controllers' instructions, he said.

All involved said the Korean Air pilot cooperated with controllers every step of the way.

"If it had been an American pilot, he probably would have said, 'Center, why are you doing this? Everything's fine here,' " Crowley said.

But he didn't -- or couldn't.

And the military treated the situation as the real thing.

"Were we prepared to act? Yes," Schwartz said. "Was such action imminent? I would say as the morning wore on, no."
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Old 18th Sep 2002, 03:58
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That's a bit scary. I flew Korean Air a few weeks ago from JFK to and ICN and back. I thought the service was excellent and the crew was very friendly and most of them spoke very good English. One thing I noticed, especially when we took off from JFK, was that the pilot used absolute full thrust right at the begining of take-off, and that normally isn't the case, especially on a 744. The flight was jammed packed and -- because of it was -- full of fuel, but the take-off roll wasn't as long as I expected. I don't know reving up your engines right away a good thing or a bad thing, but I have heard that this is common practice by KE pilots.
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Old 18th Sep 2002, 17:11
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Why don't you go to, www.jetjock.net , Korean Air's flight crew website, and express your concerns to Capt. R.K. who's coordinates are mentioned there. He will take the matter up and bring it to the chief pilots attention and will get back to you accordingly.

With best regards
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Old 19th Sep 2002, 07:05
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I must say I have never seen anything as devastating as this report: KAL safety audit report
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Old 19th Sep 2002, 11:40
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Justforkix - The report is dated December 1998 and the final paragraph says:

"All Korean Aircrew have the company's best interest at heart and wish to see Korean Air as quality, International player.

Korean Air has decided to adapt to the change. This is a courageous decision, and it is unquestionably the correct one. We hope this document will be of assistance in achieving these goals."

That is over 3 years ago, a long time in politics and even longer in aviation. Maybe you shouldn't feel quite so devastated after all?
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Old 19th Sep 2002, 14:52
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Blue eagle, that was three years ago the report? So why have things now got worse?! What do you know that we don't?
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Old 19th Sep 2002, 15:07
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Kimchi clamor

With all due respect to contributors to this thread, most of this is old news.

I should say at the outset that I do NOT fly for KAL, nor is it likely that I ever will.

With many friends flying there, however, I have on occasion become familiar with much of what happens at that very unique airline.

Granted, the English language skills of many of the senior captains are lacking.

Granted too that the Korean culture makes it difficult for a subordinate F/O to challenge or corrrect his captain.

And yes, this 'mission oriented' ex-military culture admittedly gives rise to some rather unusual decisions now and then.

To their credit, both the airline managers and the FSB trainers acknowledge these deficiencies and are working hard to correct them. I think all who might comment with knowledge will say that the trend is both upward and improving.

Those familiar with the airline business in this part of the world know that change comes slowly here.

Am I saying that all is well at KAL? I think not - but they are working hard there to change for the better, and let us hope that the changes are both timely and sufficient to prevent the accident that Mr Amhart seems to be predicting with such confidence.

With respect to Captain R.K. - while he is both friendly and professional (and maintains the 'www.jetjock.com' site on his own time and out of his own pocket) I would not suggest that PPRuNers deluge him with operational complaints or questions re: his airline.

Rather, there are plenty of official channels for your concerns - starting with Managing Vice President (Safety and Security) George Snyder or Executive Vice President (Operations) and COO Dave Greenberg - whose contact details are similarly available on said website.

Having said all of this - if someone has some 'new news' to offer re: KAL's operational and safety performance, it would be nice to have a discussion sans hysterics on the topic.
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Old 19th Sep 2002, 22:10
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WWW.JETJOCK.COM EH ?!!!!.. You couldn't make it up could you ?.......talking as someone who read the the Audit report with a great deal of non- aviation interest. CRM, Small Group Dynamics, Corporate Ethos. If KAL keeps this up they're gonna make the Harvard Business School case study databank hopefully before anyone actually dies as one of their passengers.
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Old 19th Sep 2002, 22:38
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Thumbs down

>>I must say I have never seen anything as devastating as this report: KAL safety audit report<<

This copy of "747 Classic Delta Audit findings" has been debunked here before. Delta did not write it, it is the opinion of a disgruntled Australian check captain whose contract was not renewed.

Some of the "findings" are probably valid but many others appear to be personal technique and would laughed out of the cockpit at Delta.

Use of armrests and being told to loosen your tie and collar are not normally debrief items on U.S. linechecks but they may be issues in Oz...
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Old 20th Sep 2002, 00:59
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I understand that they almost rearranged the surrounding terrain when taking off in Nadi recently. Apparently took off on RW02 (which requires an immediate turn at strip end), but continued straight ahead. As they gave their departure report to ATC the GPWS could be heard in the background. then to compound the error, they apparently turned right (toward higher terrain) before detecting a sense of urgency in the ATC instructions to turn left. A very near thing apparently.
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Old 20th Sep 2002, 04:37
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Does Lloyd's (Insurance) of London, or any other organization, have any secret ratings and ranking for many airlines around the world, based on risk factors, whether international carriers or domestic only?

The US State Department allegedly uses foreign political factors in its evaluations as to which airlines can fly to US airports-i referred to this on a different thread, as it was uncovered in an article by "Conde Nast Traveler" magazine years ago. In the US, even the military keeps an eye on airlines which augment airlift during a war, although airlines are required to maintain higher levels of safety than organizations which are strictly "mission-oriented" during a conflict, if you all will pardon this attempt to contrast the different operating environments.

Typos again.

Last edited by Ignition Override; 23rd Sep 2002 at 05:15.
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Old 20th Sep 2002, 07:13
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747 400 You need to be there to understand. Your comment about FSB, yes they are trying but they still pass local pilots on their sim checks who would be kicked out of any other company. The standards range from average to abysmal. Anything to do with visual procedures (ie looking out of the window) is equivalent to rocket science. Crosswind landings are just plain scary, especially on the aircraft. A good example was in New Zealand where the F'o scraped a pod in a 7kt crosswind due to incorrect control inputs. This happened so quick that the highly experienced ex-pat Capt. had no chance. As was mentioned the Nadi incident in a 747-400 was criminal negligence, and the capt. should be dismissed. The so called 'audit' that is mentioned is basically accurate and should not be dismissed as this is what happens.
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Old 20th Sep 2002, 11:09
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I don't know if I misunderstood the report. It does apear to be a : 747 Classic Delta Audit. Especially when "backed" by PPRuNe and put permenantly in the Tech/Safety corner as such! I'm sure that PPRuNe would not display it as a Delta audit, if it was a disgruntled Australian check captain that wrote the report.

BlueEagle I don't feel devastated at all, it's the report that is devastating. I will aknowledge that the report is from 1998, hopefully things are changing.
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Old 20th Sep 2002, 14:59
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>>I'm sure that PPRuNe would not display it as a Delta audit, if it was a disgruntled Australian check captain that wrote the report.<<

So, you believe Delta wrote: "33. Foreign crews who live on the Korean Air network would like to operate as often as possible to their home base. This is currently not permissible." in a safety report? This is classic expat verbiage, not safety audit findings from Delta Air Lines.

Or "28. Shoulder harnesses must be worn till top of climb and from top of descent, as well as when required." In the U.S., shoulder harnesses are required to be worn for takeoff and landing, not TOC to TOD, doesn't sound like a Deltoid wrote this. As I said, much of this stuff seems to be opinion and personal technique.

At the moment, there are a couple of retired Delta pilots flying for KAL but this report came out before they arrived as far as I know.

According to an article in the Asian Wall Street Journal on April 8, 1999: "The report of more than 14,000 words was written by "one or two" pilots who took part in an internal audit the airline ordered after the Guam disaster, according to the airline. It said it didn't ask them to write the report after the audit."


This so-called "747 Classic Delta Audit findings" has become an urban legend on the net. It may have been written and sent to Delta by "one or two" expats during the audit. But, it certainly is not Delta's report of KAL audit findings as some have suggested.
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Old 20th Sep 2002, 16:13
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Question Cream always rises to the top

Many years ago I managed a training program for the US Army teaching Maintenance officers and Mechanics the fine points of helicopter maintenance. Many of our Officer classes were integrated with US and foreign military personnel. In several of these classes we had Korean Military Pilots as students. We were told not to fail the Korean officers because if they were to fail it would bring dishonor to the country. In cases of failure the students would be executed upon their return to Korea. With that knowledge the students would get up in the middle of their Friday exam and head for Washington DC to attend some type of affair at the Korean Ambassadors home.

Perhaps these same pilots eventually left the military and started to fly for Korean Air.

There was a case where a Korean pilot took off from Mehrebad airport in Tehran, Iran and instead of following the procedure he turned in the opposite direction and rammed his aircraft into the Alborz Mountains.
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Old 20th Sep 2002, 17:19
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Instead of KAL, insert...

Just about any South American airline or China Air or... In any organization, there are exceptional, good, average and lousy pilots. There are some cultures that simply don't develop the personal and mental skills it requires to fly airplanes. Naturally, there are those who inherently possess the skills it takes to do this job.

It seems that the industrialized nations produce a higher number of people who excel at flying airplanes. This would make a good thesis for someone getting their Ph.d.

In summary, I wouldn't put my enemy's dog on a third world airline.TC
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