As much as we love travelling the world and seeing all the awesome that is out there, we have to admit that the price of plane tickets can end up being an insurmountable obstacle to globetrotting adventures. Fortunately, the rise of low-cost carriers (LCC) has helped alleviate some of burden of flight.
Of course, you may wonder if such airlines offer the standards and safety that we expect when being hurled through the sky in a giant metal cylinder. Well, if you’re afraid of flying and you want to see the world on a budget, you probably won’t want to read this story about a pilot who knowingly flew a plane with a faulty door handle…TWICE!
When you’re competing on cost, you tend to cut all the corners you can, but hopefully that won’t mean putting anyone’s life at risk, right? While we’re sure most low-cost airlines operate in a safe and cautious manner, it doesn’t mean everyone is always on the up and up, as one South Korean pilot who flies for the LCC Eastar Jet demonstrated.[tweet https://twitter.com/EastarJet_ZE/status/601304413911683073 align=center]
In January 2014, the captain, referred to as Cho in court documents, apparently noticed, mid-flight, that a “door open” light had flashed on and then turned off a few seconds later. The captain sent a crew member to take a look at the door. Though the crew member confirmed that the door was, indeed, closed, the light came on again, so the pilot simply told the member to “hold on to the door as we were to arrive at Chongju soon,” according to Chonsunilbo.
The plane, which was flying from Incheon to Jeju, then apparently made an emergency landing in Cheongju. However, the plane ended up continuing to Jeju without following “due safety procedures,” according to the Korea Times.
Even more upsetting is that the jet was then flown again without any repairs — except some tape on the door to keep the light from coming on again! Finally, the plane was apparently fixed at its next stop in Gimpo.[tweet https://twitter.com/Showasugi/status/601172662308614144 align=center]
While the incident obviously isn’t great, it’s also probably not exactly a big deal on its own, since it is basically impossible to open the door during flight, thanks to the internal cabin pressure. However, the pilot managed to make it a big deal by attempting to cover up the incident. Cho did not include any note of the faulty door handle in his logs but was later outed by a whistleblower, who notified a government agency.
Cho was later suspended by the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, but the pilot insisted that he had only asked the crew member to check the door. In fact, he attempted to fight the suspension in court but lost when an email he sent to the Eastar safety and security division revealed that he had, indeed, told a crew member to hold the handle to keep the open door indicator light from being set off.[tweet https://twitter.com/DeltaBravo33/status/579143407815254016 align=center]
Oddly, the pilot’s suspension is only for 30 days and likely would not have come to the attention of the public had he not filed a law suit. Maybe he should have consulted Barbra Streisand first…