Korean Air (KAL) is to begin fitting its entire fleet with enhanced ground proximity warning systems (EGPWS), starting in July with the delivery of new Airbus Industrie A330-200/300s and Boeing 777-200/300s.

The airline warns, however, that some of its future widebody deliveries may be delayed because of the economic crisis in the region.

The move to fit the AlliedSignal EGPWS, along with a host of operational safety improvement measures, was triggered by the crash of a KAL Boeing 747-300 in Guam last August, in which 227 people died. The aircraft was on approach to Guam Airport when it flew into Nimitz Hill, 5.6km (3nm) from the runway threshold.

The new terrain reference system is designed to provide up to 15-20s warning of approach to ground or water. KAL says it will be fitted to the remaining 10 777-200/300s and 14 A330-200/300s still on firm order. EGPWS will also be installed on KAL's 11 newly ordered Boeing 737-800s and 11 -900s, which will replace its 26 Boeing MD-82 and Fokker 100 twinjets from August 2000.

The intention is eventually to retrofit the AlliedSignal system to most of the carrier's existing fleet of 112 aircraft, starting with its 747-400s. A firm decision on installation on KAL's older analogue cockpit aircraft, such as its six 747-200/300s, is still under review because of technical difficulties, says the airline.

Other new safety initiatives already under way include an audit of KAL's flightcrew operations and training by code-sharing partner Delta Air Lines, the recruitment of more foreign trained pilots, the introduction of a confidential pilot reporting system and a new wage and safety bonus scheme.

Meanwhile, KAL is warning that, while it remains committed to taking delivery of all aircraft on order in 1998 - comprising two 747-400s, one -400F, three 777-200/300s and five A330-200/300s - deliveries due in 1999 and 2000 may have to be rescheduled. This delay is believed to affect at least five 777s.

Outstanding orders include three more 747-400/ 400Fs, three 777s, five A330s in 1999 and another four 777s and four A330s in 2000. Plans to convert two more 777 options in 1999/2000 appear to have been dropped.

Source: Flight International