Mismanagement in cockpit blamed for Asiana crash in San Francisco

June 25, 2014 - 8:35:06 am

WASHINGTON: The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) yesterday cited “mismanagement” in the cockpit as the probable cause of last July’s crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco.

At a hearing in Washington, the federal agency cited a number of underlying factors, including insufficient pilot training. The main cause however appears to be “mismanagement” of what should have been a smooth, stabilised approach of the Boeing 777 into San Francisco airport.

The July 6, 2013 crash — the first involving a commercial airliner in the United States since 2009 — left three dead and 187 injured.  “The Boeing 777 is one of the more sophisticated and automated aircraft in service,” acting NTSB chairman Christopher Hart said at the outset of the public hearing.

“But the more complex automation becomes, the more challenging it is to ensure that pilots adequately understand it,” he said.

“In this instance, the flight crew over-relied on automated systems that they did not fully understand. As a result, they flew the aircraft too slow and collided with the seawall at the end of the runway.”

Asiana Flight 214 was completing an otherwise routine 10-1/2 hour journey from Seoul when it clipped the seawall at San Francisco’s airport with its landing gear, skidded off the runway and burst into flames.

All three of the fatalities were young Chinese women. Investigators noted, however, that 98 percent of occupants were able to escape the burning aircraft themselves — a fact they credited to the design of the seats and the overall aircraft structure.

The NTSB has previously said the autopilot was switched off about three miles (4.8km) out, and that the air speed dipped as low as 103 knots (191km per hour), or 34 knots below the ideal approach speed.