Asiana Airlines crash may have been a suicide


New details about one of the pilots of the Asiana cargo plane that crashed into the sea off Jeju Island last week have raised questions of whether the Boeing 747 was brought down intentionally.

Insurance industry sources say that one of the two pilots – though not identifying which – was found to have taken out seven property and life insurance policies a month before the July 28 crash.

The insurance payout from the pilot’s death is expected to amount to around 3 billion won ($2.84 million).

With rumors flying that the accident may have been a suicide, Asiana Airlines – the country’s second-largest carrier – remained tight-lipped over the weekend.

According to a source at Asiana Airlines yesterday who wished to remain anonymous, the airline has no control or knowledge of the personal insurance policies of its employees.

The Asiana source added that it is not unusual for pilots to take out several policies because of the dangerous nature of their occupation.

But sources in the insurance industry say that the high salaries of pilots would appear to rule out the possibility that financial need would be behind a suicide.

Pilots make roughly 200 million won in a year, and industry sources have said it would be “crazy” to crash a plane worth 250 billion won, not to mention risking the lives of both pilots.

Insurance companies are currently looking into the accident, though the payout is expected to be given without any major holdups, industry sources said.

On Saturday, a large-scale search was conducted by two naval ships, five security vessels, three helicopters and eight vessels from the Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration.

An underwater search is also underway for the plane’s missing black box and voice recorder, which are expected to solve the mystery of the plane crash.

The recovery and investigation have been hampered by the muddy sea floor and depths of around 70 to 80 meters.

Nearly 900 pieces of debris from the plane have so far been recovered from the waters off of Jeju Island.

The recovered pieces are now under examination by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs after they were handed over from the Coast Guard last Friday.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is also participating in the investigation to determine the cause of the fire that led to the crash of the Asiana airplane.