China's aviation regulator has penalized Air Koryo for an incident where one of its passenger aircraft made an emergency landing in Shenyang after smoke in cabin in July.
The incident happened on July 22, when the Tupolev TU204-300 (Registration P-632) performing flight JS151 from Beijing to Pyongyang had to divert to Northeast China's Shenyang because of the smoke in cabin, said the CAAC East China Regional Administration on Aug. 17.
The airplane's interior was sooty and smoky, and oxygen masks were all deployed but several passengers began to have breathing difficulty because of the oxygen shortage in the cabin," Xinhua reported, adding that the plane landed 10 minutes later and no one on board was injured.
The aviation regulator, in a statement on Wednesday, said an investigation had found smoke had come from a call button located under the luggage rack on the right hand side of the cabin between rows 20 and 27.
The CAAC categorizes this as a "serious" incident.
As a punishment, it has assigned four demerit points according to Administrative Procedure for Operation Assessment of Foreign Air Carriers Engaged in Common Carriage. Subsequently, Air Koryo has been restricted from adding new destination and aircraft capacity in China.
Meanwhile, the CAAC called on Air Koryo to improve its safety awareness, operating quality, and address any shortfalls in its systems and organization by strengthen training in emergency procedures and enhance its aircraft maintenance capability.
The regulator said they had found three problems that happened during the emergency that the airline now had to fix.
"Air Koryo has to improve training on how to handle such an emergency situation, how to communicate with air traffic control and improve aircraft maintenance."
The North Korean airline also needs to improve training on handling burst tyres, engine fires, emergency decompression and traffic collision avoidance system warnings, the regulator added.
Apart from training in emergency procedures, the CAAC also told the airline to improve aircraft maintenance.