By Jung Sung-ki
An airworthiness inspection of South Korea's first commercial aircraft has begun, which is expected to lay the groundwork for sales of the plane in the United States, according to Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the country's only aircraft developer, Thursday.
Inspections are being carried out on the airframe, engine and navigational systems and performance of the KC-100 aircraft, the company said. KAI recently completed the basic design of the propeller-driven KC-100 and plans to develop four prototypes for airworthiness certification. Production is scheduled to start in 2013.
A group of 30 Korean aircraft experts will conduct the safety inspection in cooperation with seven U.S. officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it said.
The Korean government and the FAA signed a memorandum of understanding on the inspection last year, it added.
If the inspections are completed successfully, a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) will be signed between the Korean and U.S. governments.
``The signing of the BASA will help develop the country's aviation industry to some extent and Korean airplanes will be able to enter the U.S. market easily with a certification from the FAA,'' a KAI spokesman said.
The United States currently refuses to certify planes and aviation-related products made by a country that has not signed the BASA.
The KC-100 has a 315-horsepower engine and can cruise at a speed of 398 kilometers per hour. It has an operational range of 1,850 kilometers.
The four-seat plane features a full authority digital engine control system and side-stick controllers.