NTSB faults pilot ‘mismanagement’ in Asiana flight

WASHINGTON – Asiana Flight 214’s pilots caused the crash last year of their airliner carrying more than 300 people by bungling a landing approach in San Francisco, including inadvertently deactivating the plane’s key control for airspeed, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded Tuesday.

But the board also said the complexity of the Boeing 777’s autothrottle and auto flight director – two of the plane’s key systems for controlling flight – contributed to the accident. Materials provided to airlines by Boeing that fail to make clear under what conditions the autothrottle doesn’t automatically maintain speed were also faulted.

The 777 has been in service 18 years and is one of the world’s most popular wide-bodied airliners, especially for international travel. Until last year’s accident, it had not been involved in a single fatal crash.

The board’s acting chairman, Chris Hart, warned that the accident underscores a problem that has long troubled aviation regulators around the globe – that increasingly complicated automated aircraft controls designed to improve safety are also creating new opportunities for error.

The Asiana flight crew “over-relied on automated systems that they did not fully understand,” Hart said.

“In their efforts to compensate for the unreliability of human performance, the designers of automated control systems have unwittingly created opportunities for new error types that can be even more serious than those they were seeking to avoid,” he said.