May 29, 2015 12:32
The pilot of a budget airline flight ignored warning signs that a door was defective and ordered a flight attendant to hold it shut, a court heard on Thursday.
The Seoul Administrative Court ruled against the Eastar Jet captain in a civil suit he filed against the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, which suspended him over the incident.
The "door open" indicator blinked twice, warning of a back door ajar, on an Eastar flight from Incheon to Cheongju on Jan. 9 last year. The captain, identified as Cho, ordered a crewmember to hold the door knob and failed to record the incident in the flight log.
Cho claimed he only told the flight attendant to check the back door as the indicator turned itself off again.
But the court said an e-mail he sent to the airline security office the following day tells a different story. The e-mail reads, "After the take-off, the door open indicator flashed but turned itself off two or three seconds later. I ordered flight crew to confirm if the door was shut tight. One of them reported that the door remained shut tight. But the warning light flashed again a minute later. I ordered them to hold on to the door as we were to arrive at Cheongju soon."
The court also heard that no action was taken to correct the problem even after the plane landed; that the warning light blinked again during a flight to Jeju; that the plane flew from Jeju back to Gimpo with duct tape on the door; and that Eastar even attempted to destroy the safety report by the plane's purser.
An Eastar whistleblower notified the ministry of the systematic cover-up attempt.
The court found Cho's suspension was, if anything, lenient given the risks.
"Cho filed the lawsuit with active support from Eastar," a lawyer for the ministry said. "They acted very irresponsibly."
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