Asiana crash raises questions about safety procedure

Courtesy Reuters

Courtesy Reuters

The Asiana Airlines tragedy at San Francisco International Airport when its Boeing B777 crash-landed and caused the death of two teenage girls and injured several others of the 291 passengers on board is likely to cause concerns among potential customers for some time.

The Korean airline said mechanical failure did not appear to have been the cause but revealed that the pilot landing the aircraft was a trainee doing it for the first time. However, he was assisted by another more experienced pilot, which was apparently an industry practice. It is likely to raise questions as to whether with only 43 flying hours in a Boeing 777 he was adequately prepared for the task, and whether the supervision was sufficiently executed.

Initial inquiries suggested that the plane was flying “significantly below” its target speed on approach, and a last-minute effort to ditch the landing came too late.

Air travellers are likely to also find disturbing the confirmation from US officials that a navigation system helping pilots descend safely had been turned off for maintenance since June. The Glide Path is particularly useful for landings in bad weather conditions, but on that fateful day of the Asiana crash, the weather was reportedly clear and sunny. Still, it is disturbing to learn that no contingency plan has been made for maintenance downtime of a safety system as one wonders if it could have helped avoid the disaster. You cannot leave it to chance where safety is concerned.

Asiana was ranked fifth in the 2013 Skytrax World Top Airlines survey.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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