Asiana Airline Crash Update: NTSB Reports
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded its investigation of the fatal crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 as it was approaching its landing in San Francisco in July 2013. According to their report, one cause for the crash was the extremely complex system of controls on the Boeing 777, and they have called on Boeing to make substantial changes to the automated controls, because many pilots simply don’t understand them.
That doesn’t mean the pilots are off the hook for their role in the crash. The NTSB found that the three veteran pilots committed at least 20 and as many as 30 errors, ranging from relatively minor to highly significant, as they made their final approach to San Francisco International Airport.
The most serious error was determined to have come from 45-year-old captain Lee Kang Kuk, who allegedly inadvertently prevented the craft’s “autothrottle” system from maintaining speed on approach for landing, which caused the plane to be too low and too slow as it approached the landing strip. That caused the plane’s tail to hit the seawall and come off, sending the rest of the jet skidding down the runway. Kuk had never before flown a Boeing 777 at the time. The NTSB noted that the accident points up a problem that has bothered aviation regulators worldwide for some time; automated aircraft controls, which have ostensibly been designed to improve aircraft safety, have become too complicated, and are simply creating more opportunities for pilot error.
According to the NTSB report, the Asiana flight crew “over-relied on automated systems that they did not fully understand,” and “(i)n 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.”
The NTSB also found problems with Asiana’s pilot training, and they released documents showing that Asiana Airlines agreed that failure of the crew to check the plane’s airspeed and abort the landing based on that was a proximate cause of the accident.
The crash, which occurred on July 6, 2013, killed three teenagers from China and left 200 people injured. It was the first fatal accident in the history of the Boeing 777, and the only fatal passenger airline crash in the US in the past five years.
Hopefully, the NTSB’s main recommendation, that the Boeing 777’s controls be a little easier for pilots, will be taken seriously, to prevent another such accident. Many lives were changed with this accident, and everyone should do everything possible to make sure it never happens again. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in any aviation accident, whether it involves a large airliner or a small plane, please contact the experienced Aviation Accident Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm today to discuss your case, and protect your rights.