US Officials Blame Crew, Auto Systems in Asiana Crash

26 June, 2014

The United States National Transportation Safety Board has released a report on the crash of an Asiana Airlines plane last year. Three people were killed in the accident at San Francisco International Airport in California. Nearly 200 others were injured. The U.S. investigators say Asiana Flight 214 was flying too low and too slowly as it attempted to land at the airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board released its report on the crash during a meeting on Tuesday. Investigators explained how the flight crew canceled an automatic speed control and failed to watch the speed of the Boeing 777 aircraft. The plane hit a seawall as it flew toward the San Francisco runway.

"Mismanagement" and "inadequacies" are two words repeatedly used in the report. The National Transportation Safety Board blamed the crash on poor pilot training, non-standard communication and the lack of manual flight training. It also noted complex automation systems on the aircraft.

US Officials Blame Crew, Auto Systems in Asiana Crash
FILE - In this July 6, 2013 aerial file photo, the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 lies on the ground after it crashed at the San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco.

NTSB officials say the crash resulted from a series of mistakes that the crew never corrected. Investigator Roger Cox spoke about the captain of Asiana Flight 214.

"Although he was an experienced pilot, he lacked critical, manual flying skills. Pilot skills degrade if not practiced."

In the right seat next to the captain was an instructor pilot on his first training flight on the Boeing 777. And a third pilot's call to delay the landing came too late.

Bill Bramble also investigated the crash.

"Inconsistencies in company manuals and the fact both pilots were captains and the pilot monitoring was an instructor led to confusion as to who was responsible for issuing a go-around."

All sides involved now have a chance to appeal the report's findings. And they may do so.

Boeing is rejecting criticism of the design of its 777. The company noted the plane's safety record since it flew for the first time 20 years ago. And it says the automated flight system has been used for more than 55 million safe landings.

Asiana officials have accused Boeing of doing a bad job of explaining its auto throttle and autopilot systems in training materials. The company said it has taken action on some training proposals.

Christopher Hart is the acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

"We had a pilot who was new in this airplane, we had an instructor who was new as an instructor, we had fatigue, we had issues regarding understanding the automation, a lot of issues lined up the wrong way as it turned out to produce this result."

He added that, in the end, the pilot must have command over the plane. I'm Anna Matteo.

This story is based on a report by VOA's Carolyn Presutti.