No Sign Of Automatic Equipment Failure On Asiana 777

July 11, 2013

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There are no signs of failure of the autopilot or other key automatic flight equipment on the Asiana 777 that crashed in San Francisco last week, NTSB head Deborah Hersman said on Thursday.

"There is no anomalous behaviour of the autopilot, of the flight director, and of the auto-throttles, based on the FDR (flight data recorder) data reviewed to date," National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman told a news conference, referring to the flight data recorder from the Boeing 777.

The plane, carrying 291 passengers and 16 crew from Seoul to San Francisco, hit a seawall in front of the runway on Saturday, killing two passengers and injuring 180. Initial information from the NTSB investigation shows that it was flying too slowly in the final stages of the approach.

The aircraft's pilots have said in interviews with the NTSB that the auto-throttle had been set to keep the plane flying at the proper speed, according to Hersman, and it remains unclear why the jet lost speed and why the pilots failed to notice the problem.

Hersman said the cockpit voice recorder showed that none of the three pilots on the flight deck said anything about speed until about 9 seconds before the crash. One of the pilots did raise a concern about "sink rate," or the speed of descent, prior to that, but Hersman did not provide further details.

The charred wreckage of the plane will be cut up and removed from the airport runway beginning on Thursday evening, Hersman said.

A final report on the crash will likely come in about a year.

In five detailed press briefings since the crash, Hersman has painted a picture of a flight crew which inexplicably failed to correct an approach where the plane came in too low, too slow and off-centre on a clear day with little wind. She has declined to speculate on the cause of the crash.

The briefings have drawn criticism from an airline pilots' union and others, who say the release of so much information from flight recorders and other sources at an early stage of the investigation has unfairly suggested the pilots were at fault.