NTSB accused of hasty disclosures

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NTSB accused of hasty disclosures

The Air Line Pilots Association, a union representing pilots of 33 airlines worldwide, warned that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is revealing too much information about the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco, leading to false conclusions about the causes of the crash and the role of the crew.

“The NTSB’s release of incomplete, out-of-context information has fueled rampant speculation about the cause of the accident,” the Washington-based ALPA said in a statement. “Without the full body of facts surrounding a catastrophic event, partial or incomplete information can lead to erroneous conclusions and, in turn, skew the perception of individuals’ behavior. This could then lead to misguided assessments of the crew’s intentions and actions.”

It added that the NTSB must investigate why the airport’s instrument landing system (ILS) wasn’t operating and check whether the precision approach path indicator (PAPI) lights were functional.

“The field phase of the investigation is barely three days old, and the pilots on the flight deck, at the controls of the aircraft, had little opportunity to provide vital information as to what exactly happened during the event before disclosing data recorded during the last moments of the flight,” ALPA said.

ALPA’s statement came out on Monday local time after the NTSB released more details about the crash, particularly the final seven to eight seconds of the flight recorded by the flight data recorder.

Deborah Hersman, chief of the NTSB, said in a press briefing that three seconds before Flight 214 crashed, the speed of the jetliner was 34 knots lower than the target speed of 137 knots (157.7 miles per hour).

Hersman said on Monday that the targeted speed for landing was 137 knots, but the plane was going 170 knots at 1,400 feet, 149 knots at 1,000 feet and 118 knots at 200 feet.

Its lowest speed, 103 knots, was measured about three seconds before impact.

In the last two press briefings held in the past two days, the NTSB implied pilot error was the likely cause of the crash by stating that the possibility was very low that the crash occurred due to a technical defect in the plane or the switched-off “glide slope” for runway 28L, a system meant to help planes land.

“We are currently focusing on questioning the pilots,” Hersman said during Monday’s briefing.

Regarding the ALPA statement, the NTSB said, “Transparency and accuracy is very necessary to earn the public’s trust for the entire investigation process.”

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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