Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 7 News List

US faults pilot ‘mismanagement’ in Asiana crash

AP, WASHINGTON

Asiana Flight 214’s pilots caused the crash last year of their airliner carrying more than 300 people by bungling a landing approach in San Francisco, including inadvertently deactivating the plane’s key control for airspeed, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded on Tuesday.

However, the board also said the complexity of the Boeing 777’s autothrottle and auto flight director — two of the plane’s key systems for controlling flight — contributed to the accident.

Materials provided to airlines by Boeing that fail to make clear under what conditions the autothrottle does not automatically maintain speed were also faulted.

The 777 has been in service 18 years and is one of the world’s most popular wide-bodied airliners, especially for international travel. Until last year’s accident, it had not been involved in a single fatal crash.

NTSB acting chairman Chris Hart warned that the accident underscores a problem that has long troubled aviation regulators around the globe — that increasingly complicated automated aircraft controls designed to improve safety are also creating new opportunities for error.

The Asiana flight crew “over-relied on automated systems that they did not fully understand,” Hart said.

“In their efforts to compensate for the unreliability of human performance, the designers of automated control systems have unwittingly created opportunities for new error types that can be even more serious than those they were seeking to avoid,” he said.

The South Korea-based airline’s pilot training also was faulted.

Of the 307 people on board Flight 214, three Chinese teens were killed in the crash on July 6 last year. Nearly 200 were injured, including 49 seriously. It remains the only fatal passenger airline crash in the US in the past five years.

Asiana Airlines said it has already implemented the NTSB’s training recommendations, and that it agreed with the NTSB’s finding that one factor was the complexity of the autothrottle and autopilot systems, as well as their descriptions in Boeing training manuals.

Boeing immediately rejected the notion that the 777’s automated systems contributed to the accident, pointing to the aircraft’s safety record.

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