As I’m sure all of you remember, back in July an Asiana 777 crashed on final approach into San Francisco Airport, killing three people. The NTSB has released some of their initial findings, and they’re rather troubling. Here are a few quotes from the CNN, SFGate, and Yahoo articles that have been published on the findings:
The pilot “stated it was very difficult to perform a visual approach with a heavy airplane,” according to a safety board summary of an interview with Lee, who did not testify Wednesday. “Asked whether he was concerned about his ability to perform the visual approach, he said, ‘Very concerned, yea.’
Two former Asiana pilots said in interviews that most of the carriers’s crews were uncomfortable with manual flight maneuvers, according to NTSB documents. The pilots gave a similar account in interviews with Bloomberg News in July.
But when the student captain was asked whether he had contemplated an aborted landing as the plane descended, Lee Kang Kuk said it was a “very hard” decision to make, given the deference shown in Korean culture.
He stated the trainee captain was not carefully monitoring, examining or focusing on the operations and he accepted the (instructor’s) advice ‘very lightly’ and was not seriously focused on operating the right way,” the safety board said.
In the last minute of the flight, Lee and his captain instructor, Lee Jung Min, did not react to several warnings from a third member of the crew, First Officer Bong Dong Won, that the descent was too steep, the safety board said.
The first officer, sitting in a jump seat in the cockpit, told investigators that he noticed the steep descent as the plane dropped below 1,000 feet. Investigators said he “prepared in his mind to recommend something, to advise them, but he did not.”
About 40 seconds before impact, he repeatedly called out, “sink rate,” according to a transcript of the cockpit conversations. There was no apparent response.
In interviews with safety board investigators, Lee Jung Min “stated he heard this callout,” but said the plane was still high in the air and appeared to be descending properly.
Before the crash, Lee – referred to as a trainee captain – had flown just four round-trip flights on the 777. All originated in South Korea, where Asiana is based.
His instructor on a flight to Narita, Japan, two days before the crash told the safety board that he was “not sure if the trainee captain was making normal progress because the trainee captain did not perform well during the trip,” investigators wrote. “He said that the trainee captain was not well-organized or prepared, that he conducted inadequate briefings, and that he deviated from multiple standard operating procedures.”