Asiana: Jet partly to blame in California crash

AP PHOTO/MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ

AP PHOTO/MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ

Asiana Airlines acknowledged in documents released Monday that its pilots failed to correct their fatally slow approach to a landing at San Francisco International Airport but also blamed the maker of the jet, saying it did not automatically maintain a safe speed.

Asiana wrote in the filing made public by U.S. accident investigators that the Boeing 777 had major design flaws that led the pilots to believe it would keep flying at the proper speed and failed to warn the cockpit crew in time when it did not.

Boeing Co. countered in its own filing with the National Transportation Safety Board that the airplane performed as expected, and the pilots were to blame for the July 6 crash because they stuck with a clearly troubled landing.

The Asiana flight slammed into a seawall at the end of a runway during its final approach. The impact ripped off the back of the plane, tossed out three flight attendants and their seats, and scattered pieces of the jet as it spun and skidded to a stop.

In all, 304 of the 307 people aboard survived. Coroner's officials concluded that one of three teens who died, Ye Meng Yuan, was run over and killed by a rescue vehicle as she lay on the tarmac.

Asiana acknowledged in its NTSB filing that the crew failed to monitor air speed in the moments before the crash and should have aborted the landing for another go around.

“The probable cause of this accident was the flight crew's failure to monitor and maintain a minimum safe airspeed during a final approach,” Asiana conceded.

However, Asiana argued that the pilots and co-pilot believed the automatic throttle would keep the plane going fast enough to reach the runway — when in fact the auto throttle was effectively disengaged after the pilot idled it to correct an unexplained climb earlier in the landing.

The airline said the plane should have been designed so the auto throttle would maintain the proper speed after the pilot put it in “hold mode.”

Instead, the auto throttle did not indicate that the plane had stopped maintaining the set air speed, and an alert sounded too late for the pilots to avoid the crash, Asiana said. The airline added that U.S. and European aviation officials have warned Boeing about the issue, but it has not been changed.

The NTSB previously said the pilots showed signs of confusion about the 777's elaborate computer systems. The agency has not determined an exact cause of the crash.

Crew member Lee Kang Kuk was an experienced pilot with Asiana but was a trainee captain in the 777, with less than 45 hours in the jet. He has told transportation safety board investigators that he did not immediately move to perform an emergency “go around” because he felt only the instructor pilot had that authority.

Asiana wrote to the NTSB that under its company policy, “any pilot can and should call for a go-around — without penalty — whenever confronted with a potential safety issue.”

Boeing told the NTSB the airplane and all its systems were functioning as expected.

“Boeing believes that the evidence supports the following conclusion: This accident occurred due to the flight crew's failure to monitor and control airspeed, thrust level and glide path on short final approach,” the airplane manufacturer said.Asiana AirlinesAsiana Flight 214Bay Area NewsSFO

Just Posted

Dreamforce returned to San Francisco in person this week – but with a tiny sliver of past attendance. (Courtesy Salesforce)
Dreamforce returns with hundreds on hand, down from 170,000 in the past

High hopes for a larger Salesforce conference shriveled during the summer

The numbers show nearly 14 percent of San Francisco voters who participated in the Sept. 14 recall election wanted to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom from elected office. (Shutterstock photo)
(Shutterstock photo)
How San Francisco neighborhoods voted in the Newsom recall

Sunset tops the list as the area with the most ‘yes’ votes

Alison Collins says that she and other members of San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education facing potential recall “represent constituents that are often erased or talked over.” <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Alison Collins speaks: Embattled SF school board member confronts the recall effort

‘It’s important for folks to know what this recall is about. It’s bigger than any one of us.’

Is the Black Cat incident a distraction from the recovery of The City’s storied nightlife industry or does Mayor London Breed’s behavior inadvertently highlight the predicament the industry’s been in since San Francisco reinstated indoor mask requirements on Aug. 20?<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner, 2021)</ins>
Club owners to maskless mayor: Are we the new fun police?

Black Cat affair highlights difficult recovery for nightlife industry

BART’s Powell Street station in The City was the site of a fatal accident on Sept. 13.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Powell Station death serves as a grim reminder. BART doors don’t stop for anyone

What you need to know about safety sensors on the trains

Most Read