The Boeing 777 that crashed at San Francisco International Airport last July and killed three people was being flown by pilots who failed to maintain a safe airspeed upon their descent to the airstrip, Asiana Airlines admitted in a regulatory filing released by the National Transportation Safety Board on Monday.
The pilots of the twin-engine jet airliner, which was traveling from Seoul, South Korea, to San Francisco and carrying 291 passengers at the time of the crash, had apparently decelerated and struck a seawall as it neared the airport, Asiana Airlines acknowledged in the filing, the San Jose Mercury News reported
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"Given the pilots' experience and training, there are no obvious explanations for why they did not recognize the deteriorating airspeed and abandon the approach sooner," the airline said in its submission to the NTSB.
While acknowledging responsibility for the crash, Asiana Airlines also recommended that Boeing should add cockpit warnings for its 777 jets that would warn pilots in the future if their speed was too fast or too slow for the descent, Bloomberg News reported
The Boeing recommendation was however seen by some as an attempt to shift blame from the pilots to the airplane maker.
"A pilot has certain responsibilities, and one of the most primary is maintaining a safe airspeed and altitude at all times," Barry Schiff, a Camarillo aviation safety expert with 34 years as an airliner captain, told the San Jose Mercury News. "He may use automation to assist him, but it's his responsibility to ensure that technology is not leading him astray and is doing what he wants it to do."
In a 2011 report to the NTSB, Boeing addressed the issue telling the agency that its jets have "clear indicators built into the auto-flight system that make it easy for the crew to always be aware of their situation," Bloomberg News reported.
"The entire crew always has the responsibility to monitor course, path, and airspeed, and to intervene if the auto-flight system is not performing as expected," Boeing added.
Of the 291 passengers onboard the Boeing 777 at the time of the crash there were 61 Americans, 77 Koreans, 141 Chinese, and one Japanese citizen, according to Asiana Airlines.
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