• A Korean Air Airbus A380 en route to the US had to return to Seoul due to a landing gear problem, causing a delay of over six hours for passengers.
  • The aircraft was delivered to Korean Air in 2013 and had been operating short flights in the days leading up to the incident.
  • Korean Air had a replacement A380 on standby, and luckily no injuries were reported among the passengers and crew.

A Korean Air Airbus A380 flying en route to the US returned to Seoul shortly after departure due to a problem with the landing gear. The incident occurred on flight KE81 from Seoul to New York on August 14th.

Flight KE81 took off from Incheon International Airport (ICN) at 10:21 local time, bound for New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Some 30 minutes later, when the aircraft was cruising at 35,000 ft above Japan, the onboard crew decided to turn back to Seoul. The A380 then entered a holding pattern in South Korea to dump fuel before landing safely on runway 33L at Incheon International Airport after more than five hours in the air.

Korean Air Airbus A380
Photo: Thiago B Trevisan | Shutterstock

The A380 in question is registered as HL7621 and was delivered new to Korean Air in August 2013, making it over ten years old. Three days before the technical problem, the aircraft had operated just two short two-hour flights per day - KE185/186 from Seoul to Taipei and back.

The aftermath of the incident

The extent of the problem with the landing gear was not immediately clear, although the aircraft was still on the ground in Seoul more than 24 hours after the incident. The flight's routing and return to Seoul can be seen on

Following the incident, there were no reports of any injuries among the passengers or crew onboard. Luckily for the passengers, Korean Air had a replacement A380 on standby, ready to take them to New York. The replacement aircraft, registered as HL7619, later touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport over six hours behind schedule. Flights from Seoul to New York usually take in the region of 13 hours.

Korean Air recently earned a five-star rating from Skytrax - find out more with this report from the Simple Flying team.

Korean Air and the Airbus A380

According to data from, Korean Air has ten Airbus A380s in its fleet, although only five are currently active. Each A380 carries 407 passengers in a three-class configuration - 12 in first class, 94 in business class, and 301 in economy class. The ten aircraft have an average age of just over 11 years old.

Korean Air Airbus A380
Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock

Korean Air's A380s returned to the skies last summer after being stored for over two years due to the pandemic. The airline currently flies its A380s to just three destinations - New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), and Taipei (TPE). From October, Korean Air will add Hong Kong (HKG) to this list when it resumes daily flights. The carrier's other long-haul flights are operated by a mixture of Airbus A330s, Boeing 777s, 787s, and 747s.

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Have you been on a diverted flight due to a technical problem? Which airline and route were you traveling on? Share your experiences by commenting below.

Sources: The Aviation Herald,,

  • Korean Air Boeing 787
    SkyTeam member Korean Air is already a much larger airline than Asiana with 169 aircraft in its current fleet. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |
    Korean Air
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier
    Incheon International Airport
    Year Founded:
    Walter Cho
    South Korea