National Transportation Safety Board says Asiana Airlines Crew ‘Over-relied’ on Automated Systems in Fatal Crash

In this July 6, 2013, aerial photo, the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 lies on the ground after it crashed at San Francisco International Airport. (Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)
In this July 6, 2013, aerial photo, the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 lies on the ground after it crashed at San Francisco International Airport.
(Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)

The fatal crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 was caused by the pilots mismanaging the descent toward San Francisco’s airport and not aborting the landing to try again, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

Contributing factors included the complexities of the Boeing 777’s autothrottle, which were inadequately described in the manufacturer’s documents, along with inadequate pilot training and monitoring, the board said.

The board agreed to the cause and contributing factors by a series of 4-0 votes. To avoid future crashes. the board agreed to recommendations including enhancing training for the autothrottle and requiring pilots to land flights manually more often to remain familiar with it.

The board also voted to urge Boeing to change the autothrottle so that it would provide a minimum speed regardless of what part of a flight a plane is in. Investigators found that low-speed protection available in other flight modes would have revved the engines 20 seconds before impact, which would have “likely” prevented the accident, the board said.

“Our goal in this investigation is to help prevent similar accidents in the future,” said Christopher Hart, acting chairman of NTSB. “In this instance, the flight crew over-relied on automated systems that they did not understand.”

Justin Green, a lawyer with Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, which is representing the families of the three dead girls from the flight along with dozens of injured passengers, called the report thorough for going beyond the pilot errors to unintended problems from pilots using the automation. But the board’s recommendations are non-biding unless the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing adopt them.

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Source: USA Today | Bart Jansen

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