South Korea partly resumed flights of its F-16 fighter jets on Monday after the crash of one plane led to a fleetwide grounding, the Air Force said.
The U.S.-made combat aircraft plunged into an uninhabited hill in the southeast town of Cheongsong, some 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul on Wednesday, after its engine failed during a training mission. The two pilots aboard the airplane safely ejected.
Following the accident, the Air Force suspended the flight of some 30 F-16 units, as well as 130 KF-16 fighter jets, a South Korean variant of the U.S. airplane, which the Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. license-produced.
With Monday’s decision, around 130 KF-16 aircraft resumed their operations, an Air Force official said.
But the F-16 jets remain grounded and will not resume flights until the Air Force wraps up its investigation into last week’s crash, according to the official.
The two models use different jet engines and the KF-16s safely underwent a special engine checkup, the official said, explaining why Seoul lifted the flight ban.
“A thorough investigation is under way over the crash of the F-16D aircraft,” the official said.
The Air Force retrieved the black box of the stricken jet and sent it to the U.S. for a probe, he said, adding that a technical investigation from the aircraft’s engine maker will arrive in South Korea to join the local investigation.