Asiana Flight 214 Under Formal Investigation

The first clues


asiana-crashThe flight 214 data recorders were recovered on Sunday morning and sent to Washington to begin a formal investigation that could bring more clues and explanations about what happened in the recent accident of the Boeing 777 of Asiana Airlines.

At a news conference offered by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) Chairman Deborah Hersman spoke about the first speculations and conjectures that could probably explain what happened on the plane before it crash-landed. Federal investigators revealed that there was no indication that terrorism was involved and the option of a mechanical failure or negligence by the pilot has been discarded by Yoon Young-doo, President of Asiana Airlines who apologized on Sunday morning, to the passengers and their families. Directly from Seoul, at a news conference, Yoon said their pilots are experienced  and possess at least 10,000 hours of flight experience. “The company will conduct an accurate analysis as to the cause of this accident and take strong countermeasures for safe operation in the future with the lesson learned from this accident,” Yoon said. South Korean investigators will work alongside U.S. investigators.

According to BBC News, Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, the two girls killed in the accident, are the first-ever  fatalities in a Boeing 777 crash. They were both students at Jiangshan Middle School in Zhejiang, China. Out of the 291 passengers on board, 141 were Chinese and at least 70 were students and teachers from China that were on their way to Summer camps. The passengers and 16 crew members were flying from Seoul, South Korea to  San Francisco, CA., USA. Statistically, 2012 was the safest year in terms of aviation accidents worldwide since 1945, according to the Aviation Safety Network.  Better staff training and more safety advances have decreased the number of incidents, and increased survival.

This was said during a press release on their web page: “Asiana Airlines is currently investigating the specific cause of the incident as well as any injuries that may have been sustained to passengers as a result. Asiana Airlines will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation of all associated government agencies and to facilitate this cooperation has established an emergency response center at its headquarters”.

The first clues

The black box recorders of the Asiana Flight 214 were sent to Washington and will be analized by investigators of the NTSB. As part of the formal investigation of the crash-landing, Chairman Deborah Hersman is hoping to interview the pilots in the following days. “We want to understand what was going on with this crew so we can learn from it”, Hersman said.

Hersman also informed that a system that normally help the pilots to correclty approach the runway and land (Instrument Landing System, or ILS) had been turned off at the San Francisco Airport. “What we do know is that there was a notice to airmen that indicated that the ‘glide slope’ was out,” she said, adding it had been out since June due to construction at the airport. Even without the construction, officials say it is not unusual for the “glide slope” or “glide path” system to be turned off during good weather conditions.

“The cockpit data recording gives a sense of the conversations, the workload and what was going on between pilots not just in the moments of the crash but in the minutes and hours before,” Hersman said. “If the data’s good, it will help guide our investigation.”

“There are a lot of systems that help support pilots” as they fly into busy airports, Hersman said. Some of these systems alert the pilots. “A lot of this is not necessarily about the plane telling them that something may be wrong,” she said. “It’s also about the pilot’s recognition of the circumstances and what’s going on. So for them to be able to assess what’s happening and make the right inputs to make sure they’re in a safe situation — that’s what we expect from pilots.”

An expert and retired pilot  said in an interview that the ILS is not critical on the 777, and that even though it triggers an audible warning that says: “too low, too low, too low” there are more systems aboard the aircraft that would provide similar warnings. Even if the pilot was unaware this expert thinks that another member of the flight crew could have noticed that the plane was low and could have warned the pilot.

The NTSB is currently focusing on gathering retrievable information for the formal investigation and getting the airport fully operational again. The San Francisco Airport has been keeping travelers informed through their twitter account as well as hosting several news conferences. They kept their restaurants open all night to accomodate flight disruptions and overnight passengers and have reopened two runways since yesterday evening. However, many passengers will have to scramble to find new options to get to their destinations. Red Cross Bay, Area, has been helping as well as different Airline Companies like American Airlines who updated their Travel Policy due to the incident of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at SFO.

Claudia Ponce.









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