Korean Air Grounds Its A330 Fleet for Intensive Inspections
Airlines Safety

Korean Air Grounds Its A330 Fleet for Intensive Inspections

DALLAS – Following two separate incidents last week, Korean Air (KE) has decided to ground its entire Airbus A330 fleet. The move has been taken so that the airframes can undergo a series of “complete safety inspections, along with external consultancy”, according to the declarations of the CEO, Woo Kee-Hong. This was announced during a meeting with the Ministry of Transport of South Korea.

Woo declared, “Korean Air is aware of the seriousness of the recent events involving our A330 fleet. Safety remains our top priority, and we will analyze and check all security obstacles that may exist at Korean Air from top to bottom, and will make great efforts to improve them, if necessary.”


The airline operates 30 of both Airbus A330 variants. A -300 suffered an incident on October 23 that caused it to overrun the runway after various landing attempts at Cebu (CEB) in the Philippines. All 165 passengers and 11 crew members evacuated the aircraft safely. But the damage was unrepairable, so the airframe, registered as HL7525, had to be written off.

However, the event that made the directive team decide on the grounding was the engine failure of another A330 of the fleet, which happened last Sunday and forced the aircraft to return to Seoul (ICN) after departure towards Sydney (SYD).

The average age of KE’s A330 fleet is 17.8 years. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

An Ageing Fleet

After the meeting between the Ministry of Transport of South Korea and the directive team of Korean Air, the two agreed that KE would commence a phase-out of its oldest A330s. This action will involve the retirement of nine aircraft delivered to the airline before the turn of the new century.

The aircraft involved in the ICN-SYD incident, registered as HL7701, is the latest unit, delivered in January 2021. However, the airframe is 21 years old and had been operating for Czech Airlines (OK) for eight years. The average age of Korean Air’s A330 fleet is 17.8 years.

Featured image: Korean Air Airbus A330-200 (HL228). Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

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Commercial aviation enthusiast from Madrid, Spain. Studying for a degree in Air Traffic Management and Operations at the Technical University of Madrid. Aviation photographer since 2018.

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