Release #13.39
July 11, 2013

ALPA Reaffirms Commitment to Finding All Factors in Crash of Asiana Flight 214

WASHINGTON—As contributing factors continue to be discovered in the Asiana Flight 214 accident investigation, ALPA again warns about the dangers of speculation based on incomplete data. Today, the NTSB revealed that the pilot flying the aircraft was blinded by a flash of light only seconds before the crash. It also has been reported that the autothrottles may have malfunctioned.

ALPA fully supports open, objective, and thorough investigations with the goal of finding all factors involved in the accident, not simply the most convenient to identify quickly. Anything less must not be tolerated.

“ALPA, like other organizations with airline safety as a bedrock value, views any accident involving an airline aircraft with a single objective – finding every link in the complex chain of events leading to the accident so that mitigations can be put in place to keep such an accident from happening again,” said ALPA president, Capt. Lee Moak. “Clearly, with decades of experience and tens of thousands of flight hours on the flight deck in multiple airline aircraft, a well-rested, fully qualified professional airline flight crew does not set out to fly into a seawall. The key question remains, why did events unfold as they did?”

The hazard of laser illumination of airline cockpits has been recognized as potentially disastrous, and commercially available lasers continue to grow in both power and popularity among those oblivious to the potential danger. If aircraft arriving in San Francisco are being targeted, or if some other light source is creating a distraction to the pilots of arriving aircraft at low altitude, identifying that hazard is critical.

Similarly, determining the second-by-second status of the autothrottles, a key element in speed control, must also be a priority. Proper, appropriate operation of all aircraft automation needs to be verified, and any deviations from standard procedures and operations thoroughly and promptly investigated. If a mechanical deficiency, a training deficiency, or other problem exists, that must be detected promptly and examined thoroughly in order to develop a remedy.

Another issue receiving little attention is the effect of the ongoing construction on and around Runway 28L. The NTSB has commented on the lack of an instrument landing system (ILS) on that runway as a result of the construction. Availability of multiple accurate vertical guidance cues, particularly when landing at an airport with which a pilot may not be familiar, is critical to pilots. The absence of this capability must be further evaluated, as should the availability of other external cues.

“As we recognize the testament to safety represented by the survival of nearly every occupant of the aircraft, and as we remain mindful of the victims and their loved ones, we also recognize the aviation safety community’s responsibility to investigate every possible aspect of the operation leading up to the accident with the singular goal of preventing a recurrence,” said Moak.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 50,000 pilots at 33 airlines in the United States and Canada.

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CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or