On Tuesday, June 24, the National Transportation Safety Board revealed its findings on what caused the July 2013 Asiana crash involving a Boeing 777 in San Francisco.
The primary reason behind the crash cited in the NTSB report is pilot mismanagement and cockpit confusion. Investigators also blamed the crew’s over-reliance on the aircraft’s complex autothrottle system which the South Korean-based Asiana Airlines failed to train their pilots on correctly.
The report claims that the pilot flying the aircraft, Captain Lee Kang Kuk, was flying a visual approach, and had inadvertently disengaged the autothrottle when he reduced the aircraft’s thrust to maintain a steady descent. Though he claimed that he was aware of the final approach being too low and too slow, he failed to initiate a go-around, saying that the check airman beside him in the right seat was the only one with the authority to call for a missed approach.
Crew resource management, or CRM, is a widely embraced flight deck philosophy in the United States, but a decided lack of it had contributed to several South Korean incidents where the captain’s authority remained unquestioned.
Asiana Airlines admitted that the pilots failed to maintain the aircraft’s airspeed and abort the landing when the approach was discovered to be unstable. The airline did claim, however, that Boeing’s design was faulty, and should have had been able to maintain airspeed after the autothrottle had been placed into “hold mode.” While experts agree that the autothrottle does require special care and awareness, they also argue that the highly automated systems of the 777 require special training that Asiana simply did not provide.
The Phoenix aviation accident attorneys of Curry, Pearson & Wooten extend their condolences to the friends and families of those killed in the crash.