Pilot error emerges as prevailing theory in SFO plane crash

An Asiana Airlines spokesman, speaking to the Wall Street Journal, identified the co-pilot of a plane that crashed in San Francisco Saturday as Lee Kang-guk. He was born in 1967 and had less than 10,000 hours of flying time, with only 43 hours of that time spent piloting 777s (the type of aircraft that crashed).… READ THE REST

I love it. The system pays these guys complete shit-money for the job that they do and then get all crazy because someone has logged less than ten-THOUSAND hours. I question how many people reading this have logged ten-thousand hours doing what they’re doing right now.

Sure, only 43 hours on a 777 though. That, to me, is like saying a heart surgeon has logged ten thousand hours, but only 43 on a particular type of procedure.

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i played starfox a couple times, gimme one of them 777s

I don’t think “hours” would be the right unit for surgeons, but even conceeding that-- No, I don’t think your comparison is apt. First, near as I can tell, low starting salaries followed by rapid increases to the $100k+ range is the norm. A little searching shows that there may be a pilot shortage for Asian airlines, leading to around $120k as the starting salary. So, not peanuts.

Second, to have an apt comparison-- even using hours-- you would need to compare this to a surgeon with 10,000+ hours of experience, but had only done heart surgery in a computer program, and then did the real thing & screwed up. Assuming it was pilot error here, which the NTSB is likely to take a year or more to determine.

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I was also surprised when I read “less than 10,000 hours”. Note that the original article writes it as “just under 10,000 hours”. Maybe a subtle difference, but one suggests “not enough” while the other is just a quantitative description. If someone thinks that is not enough, they need to think about what 10,000 hours of any activity really means.

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What I find curious is that there are apparently a number of automated systems, on the ground and on the plane, that apparently weren’t in use or didn’t successfully clue-in the flight crew.

I would(perhaps naively) imagine that, by the time a plane has gone through design, testing, and manufacture, its properties would have been simulated to death, and the question “How fast should I be going now, if I want to land X meters ahead?” would be readily available for all but the nastiest ambient conditions.

Patrick Smith (author of ask a pilot) writes

Reportedly, Flight 214's captain was new to the aircraft, and had accrued fewer than 50 total hours in the 777 prior to the accident. While much is being made of this, to me it's a red herring. Pilots transition from aircraft type to aircraft type all the time, and it's not uncommon for a pilot to have a limited number of hours in whichever plane he or she has most recently qualified in. But experience in a particular model and experience overall are different things. All airline pilots are highly trained and are highly experienced before they ever set foot in a jetliner cockpit.

According to seat guru, Asiana flies the 747, 767, and Airbus A330 and Airbus A320-- the pilot probably was experienced on one of those…

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The New York Times says

Mr. Lee, 46, a 19-year veteran with Asiana, has logged more than 9,700 hours of flying, piloting A320s and Boeing 737s and 747s to various destinations, including San Francisco. He had just 43 hours of flying time with Boeing 777s, and had made eight landings with them, in London, Los Angeles and Narita, Japan. He was still on a "familiarization flight" program when he was at the controls Saturday; a senior colleague with more experience landing 777s, including at San Francisco, sat beside him as co-pilot.

Do a barrel roll!

So, is “under 10,000 hours” enough, or not? Is “only 43 hours” up to standards? If so, then STFU, the co-pilot was in compliance and certified competent. If not, then who the hell let him fly?

Either way, it looks like the Wall Street Journal is hanging a worker out to dry, while running cover for a corporation. What a shock.

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What corporation? There’s no evidence that anything was wrong with the plane.

43 hours in an aircraft type that is mostly used for transoceanic flight is what, 5 flights? this might have been his first attempted landing as pilot in command in the 777, and i’ve read a great deal suggesting that the 777 behaves much differently than any of the other types he had logged so many hours in. add this to the fact that, as mentioned in the previous thread, the ILS was inoperative at SFO, and you’ve got a relative noob attempting to do something they might not have done before with less information than they were trained to work with.

with the information provided by the flight data recorder, somehow, someone forgot to throttle up the engines at the end of the descent. two someones forgot to throttle up at the end of the descent. whether this was due to a mistake in the settings of the automation or just fixation on the runway, it comes down to pilot error.

i’m the first to defend the pilots, because it’s usually an airline or an aircraft manufacturer jumping through all kinds of logical hoops to place the blame on them, but it really seems like this is a case of pilot error. sad.

Pretty sure it’s the co-pilot they’re crucifying, not the pilot in command.

As for how the airline could be at fault, even with a gleaming, perfect aircraft, do they train their pilots properly? If an airline sends a plane up with an inexperienced pilot, is it the pilot’s fault? Do flight crews work reasonable and predictable hours? Fatigue is a factor in many accidents.

Other factors might matter as well. I am not a… hmmm… IANANTSB?

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