KAI Says Production Unaffected By Pandemic

Credit: KAI

SEOUL, BEIJING—Production at Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson for the company said.

For KAI’s KUH-1 Surion helicopter program specifically, the delivery schedule and planned production quantities remain unchanged, the spokesperson added.

KAI’s operations are in Sacheon, a city the southern end of the Korean peninsula. Gyeongsangnam province, which includes Sacheon, has been less affected by the novel coronavirus than any other part of South Korea.

The exact extent of Surion production is not disclosed, but at least 137 helicopters of the type are operated by the Republic of Korea Army, Republic of Korea Marine Corps and various civil agencies.

The civil operators include the coast guard, which received two in December 2019. These were of the KUH-1CG version and are the only two that the agency has ordered.

KAI also makes parts for the Airbus A320 family, A330 and A350 and the Boeing 737, 767, 777, 787, F-15, AH-64 and P-8 programs. Its own aircraft types include the T-50 trainer and light-attack family and, still in development, the KF-X fighter and LCH-LAH civil and military helicopter.

Separately, all Surions were grounded from March 26 to April 7 because of cracks found in two, TV Chosun reported. The cracks were in “the connection” of the cover of the main gearbox, the cable broadcaster reported.

Inspection KAI and the Republic of Korea Army checked all other Surions and did not find the problem on any of them, TV Chosun said.

A fault in manufacturing a rotor mast caused the crash of a Surion helicopter of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps on July 17, 2018. The main rotor separated from the rest of the helicopter, which fell to the ground; five of the six people aboard died.

Kim Minseok

Kim Minseok covers South Korean defense. He has worked as a journalist for South Korean military magazines Military Review and Defense Times. Mr Kim is also a research fellow at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, a think tank.

Bradley Perrett

Bradley Perrett covered China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. He is a Mandarin-speaking Australian.