TIME Transportation

NTSB: Pilot of Fatal Asiana Crash Lacked ‘Critical Manual Flying Skills’

The July 2013 crash of a Boeing 777 in San Francisco caused three deaths

National Transportation Safety Board officials on Tuesday said the pilot of last year’s deadly Asiana Airlines crash relied excessively on the plane’s automated systems.

“Although the pilot flying was experienced, he lacked critical manual flying skills,” said NTSB Operations Group Chair Roger Cox in a statement Tuesday.

Acting NTSB Chairman added, “The flight crew over-relied on automated systems that they did not fully understand.”

Three people were killed in the July 6, 2013 crash when an Asiana Boeing 777 struck a seawall ahead of the runway during a landing attempt at San Francisco International Airport.

Asiana previously said the plane’s crew believed the aircraft was automatically maintaining a safe airspeed which they had already set. Boeing later said the aircraft was behaving normally and that the pilots should have known to abort the ill-fated landing.

“This accident occurred due to the flight crew’s failure to monitor and control airspeed, thrust level and glide path on short final approach,” Boeing said in March.

Pilots on final approach must maintain an airspeed above a certain point to avoid losing lift and thus plummeting to the earth sooner than intended, often with disastrous consequences. Automated systems on advanced aircraft can assist pilots in landing, but pilots still must often rely on so called “stick-and-rudder skills,” or the use of manual controls, to ensure safe landings.

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