Asiana Airlines pilots mismanaged a confusing auto-pilot system, causing the jetliner to crash and kill three people at San Francisco International Airport last year, federal officials said today.
At a hearing today, authorities from the National Transportation Safety Board said confusion over whether one of the airplane's controls was maintaining air speed was responsible for the crash landing.
Officials also faulted Asiana Airlines' pilot training and said the auto throttle of the Boeing 777, along with materials provided by the maker, did not make clear when the controls did not automatically maintain speed.
The Boeing 777 came in to the airport too low and too slow, hit a seawall and cartwheeled down the runway in the July 6, 2013 crash.
One of the three teens who died, Ye Meng Yuan, was run over and killed by a rescue vehicle as she lay on the tarmac. In addition, more than 200 people were injured.
The NTSB has been studying the crash and will make recommendations on how to prevent similar accidents.
Asiana Airlines has acknowledged that its pilots failed to correct their show approach to landing, but also blamed the maker of the jet, saying it did not automatically maintain a safe speed.
U.S. accident investigators made public a filing in which the South Korea-based airline asserted that the Boeing 777 had major design flaws that led the pilots to believe it would keep flying at the proper speed and that failed to warn the cockpit crew in time when it did not.
Boeing Co. countered in its own filing with the NTSB that the airplane performed as expected, and the pilots were to blame for the July 6 crash because they stuck with a troubled landing.
The pilots picked the wrong auto-pilot mode, which disengaged the throttle and gas pedal, Asiana has conceded.
While the pilots received a warning, they were unable to push the throttles and gain speed. It’s a worry that pilots rely too heavily on automation.
"It’s there to help them. But you can’t abdicate the responsibility for actually having good flying skills when you’re in the cockpit," said Deborah Hersman, the NTSB chairwoman at the time of the accident.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.