Hearings into San Francisco crash of Boeing 777 begin Tuesday

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by Glenn Farley / KING5 News Aviation Specialist

KREM.com

Posted on December 8, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Updated Sunday, Dec 8 at 9:32 AM

SEATTLE - On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board will hold two days of hearings into the crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.  

Of the more than 300 people on board, three died, one as the result of being run over by a fire truck after being covered with firefighting foam while on the ground. Several people were thrown from the plane through cracks in the bottom of the fuselage after the plane's tail took the brunt of  the impact as it hit a seawall near the end of the runway.

The crash investigation quickly focused on performance of the pilots on the flight deck, and how the pilots allowed the plane to get too low and too slow while making a visual approach to the runway in perfectly clear daylight conditions.  They only realized they were in a bad spot seconds before impact. 

Investigators want to know if the pilots received adequate training in basic flying skills or had become too dependent on the 777's sophisticated automation.

"Asiana pulled the curtains back on something we've been worried about for some time, which is the over-emphasis on automation. It doesn't mean automation is bad, but it does mean that if you have a situation where the pilots can't actually fly the airplane physically anymore. Then you've got a problem," saud air safety analyst John Nance.

Day one of the hearing will focus on the 777's flight deck design concepts and characteristics, Asiana's pilot training on automated systems and handling visual approaches.  Day two of the hearing will look at the effects and influence of automation on human performance in the accident sequence and the emergency response.

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