Asiana Airlines Pilot in SFO Crash was Unfamiliar with Plane's Computer Systems
December 12, 2013 11:44 AM
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The safety board hasn’t concluded what caused the crash
A recent hearing regarding the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco last July revealed that the pilot was
unfamiliar with the plane's systems
and wasn't prepared to handle it manually.
According to a new report from
, a U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing yesterday showed that the Asiana Airlines pilot from the July 6 crash disabled a speed-control system before the plane crashed at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
The pilot -- Lee Kang Kuk -- who was being trained on the Boeing 777-200ER wide-body, entered certain parameters into the flight-management and auto-throttle systems that day, leading the plane to believe he wanted to accelerate and climb. He then throttled back to counter the plane’s increase in thrust so that the plane’s descent could resume.
However, the throttles stayed in the lowest setting due to the way the auto-throttle had been set, and because he had shut off the autopilot.
Once the plane descended below 50 feet, the plane’s control column began shaking as a warning to pilots that they were losing lift. A series of chimes rang 11 seconds before impact, which indicate that the plane had reached dangerously low speed. A transcript showed that Lee Jung Min (an instructor pilot monitoring the captain as part of his training) gave the command to abort the landing and climb 8.5 seconds after the initial speed warning.
As it turns out, the pilots increased the power too late to avoid the crash.
Lee Kang Kuk said the experience was "very stressful" and "very difficult," and that he wasn’t used to landing without an instrument-landing system leading him to the runway. According to Lee, he thought the auto-throttle would have come out of the idle position to prevent the airplane from going below the minimum speed.
The crash killed three teenage girls from China and over 200 passengers were taken to hospitals. There were 291 passengers, 12 flight attendants and four pilots.
“Asiana is committed to taking necessary steps to ensure such an accident never happens again,” said Asiana Airlines in a statement.
The safety board hasn’t concluded what caused the crash.
a recent study
commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shows that pilots depend on automation much more than they should, and many don't know what to do when they must manually take over.
"They [pilots] are accustomed to watching things happen…instead of being proactive," said the study.
The study was comprised of an international panel of air-safety experts comprising of industry, labor, academic and government officials.
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12/13/2013 11:10:05 AM
The pilot flying the 777 is reported to have 10,000 hours of logged time. What was he doing all that time that left him uncomfortable in making a normal landing? Surely he must have made a few previous landings. Flying one big airliner is not that different from flying any other when it comes down to the basics such as landing. The control layout may be different (e.g. Airbus vs. Boeing) but the principles and aerodynamics are exactly the same (particularly when it comes to maintaining the proper speed).
RE: 10,000 hours
12/16/2013 12:39:46 PM
His experience was almost entirely with Airbus, not Boeing. They have very different philosophies when it comes to flight controls, and pilots need proper training to adjust. For example, when on autothrottle the Airbus throttles just sit there, while the Boeing throttles are back-driven so they move. When this pilot saw them move he wasn't familiar with that and he put them back where they were, overriding the autothrottle and leading to an un-recoverable situation. This is entirely pilot error due to poor training.
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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