A federal commission determined that pilots in a catastrophic Asiana Airlines crash last year botched their landing and unintentionally shut down an automatic speed control system. That system could have averted the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also said the pilots failed to monitor their altitude and airspeed, and waited too long to safely call off the landing. Investigators also concluded that fatigue likely affected the pilots.
The crash occurred last July when a Boeing 777 attempted to land at San Francisco International Airport, instead striking a sea wall and slamming into the runway. There were three fatalities and 187 injuries.
The NTSB determined that the trainee captain at the controls that day lacked the training for manually landing an aircraft, and the pilot-instructor provided inadequate supervision.
Boeing’s 777 features an automatic throttle system, which electronically adjusts airspeed. Investigators found that the Asiana pilots inadvertently disengaged this system during the landing approach. Consequently, the throttle entered ‘hold mode,’ making it useless when airspeed dropped.
Accidents like this make it plain that airlines desperately need to overhaul both their safety procedures and their training programs. One such improvement would be to increase flight simulator training for landings without relying on automated guidance systems.
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