Asiana: Secondary Cause of Crash Was Poor Software Design

By Paul Riegler on 31 March 2014
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Fuselage of Asiana Flight 214 after the crash

Fuselage of Asiana Flight 214 after the crash

Asiana Airlines said Monday that contributing factors to the July 2013 crash in San Francisco included poor software design and the failure of the plane’s low-speed alerting system to activate in time for a safe recovery.

On July 6, 2013, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed short of the runway at San Francisco International Airport.  Of the 307 people on board, all but three survived.  The accident followed a rapid deterioration in airspeed below 500 feet and was caused by the crew not noticing that the airplane was flying far too slowly to stay in the air.

It was the first crash of a Boeing 777 that resulted in fatalities since the aircraft entered service in 1995.

In a filing with the National Transportation Safety Board on Monday, the Korean airline said that its investigation showed that contributing factors to the crash included “inconsistencies in the B777’s automation logic that led to the unexpected disabling of airspeed protection” as well as “a low airspeed alerting system that activated too late to permit recovery of the flight.”  The airline also blamed “air traffic control demands that led to excessive pilot workload during final approach.”

Documents released last December showed that the plane’s captain, Lee Kang Kuk, inadvertently disabled a speed-control system, the auto-throttle, before the crash, because he was nervous about making a visual landing at San Francisco International Airport.

Asiana is arguing that this should be listed as a contributing factor in the final report on the crash.

According to NTSB documents released last year, in some combinations of auto-throttle and autopilot settings, such as what occurred in the case of the Asiana crash, the system becomes dormant.

In a separate filing with the NTSB on Monday, the Asiana pilots union said that its members were not trained adequately in this area, contradicting reports given by instructors of Asiana pilots who said the three pilots on the ill-fated Asiana plane were warned of the issue.

(Photo: NTSB)

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