Eastar Jet's two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have had 44 malfunctions in the less than four months since they went into service here, a report showed Tuesday.
This is the same aircraft model as those involved in the Ethiopian Air and Lion Air crashes that killed all passengers and crew onboard, again raising safety concerns about Boeing's best-selling aircraft.
Based on data from the transport ministry and Eastar Jet, Rep. Hong Chul-ho of the Liberty Korea Party said that among the 44 malfunctions were defects in the auto-throttle and the aviation management computer, and a failure to mark signals on the inertial navigation system.
On March 7, one of Eastar Jet's B737's auto-throttle system malfunctioned while the plane was climbing. When the aircraft's speed falls below the appropriate level, the device is supposed to automatically correct this.
On Feb. 20, there were problems in the airborne collision avoidance system; on Feb. 27, an aviation management computer failed to operate; and on March 10, there were malfunctions on the inertial navigation system.
"There have been numerous defects on the aircraft, but the transport ministry issued an airworthiness certificate to operate them when they were brought in December and January," Hong said.
The lawmaker pointed out that the plane's automated anti-stall system is thought to be one the cause of the recent deadly crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max.
"There are indications that automated systems on the B737 Max have problems, so we'll scrutinize whether the ministry checked and tested the airworthiness of Eastar Jet's planes according to the Aviation Safety Law," Hong said.
Eastar Jet refuted the lawmaker's comments, stating that the defects mentioned were common among all aircraft in operation worldwide.
"The 44 defects questioned by the lawmaker are not all problematic. There were only 15 simple defects that are common in all Boeing and Airbus models and can be reduced through maintenance," Eastar Jet said in a statement.
The carrier's B737 Max planes have been grounded though, because the ministry is conducting special safety checks following the overseas crashes. "So far there has not been a specific problem found," the airline said.