NTSB chief says 777 crews have plenty of help landing

July 7, 2013 at 1:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. airline safety official said Sunday the Asiana Airlines pilots who crash-landed in California should have been aware of the aircraft's angle of approach.

Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said on CNN's "State of the Union" the Boeing 777 was packed with electronics to help land the plane and the crew could have also relied on their own skills to land smoothly.

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration said it appeared a system that helps guide the 777 in for landing was not working aboard the ill-fated Asiana flight. But Hersman said the loss of the system should not have been fatal.

"There are a lot of systems that help support the pilots as they come into airports, especially busy commercial airports," Hersman said. "There has already been a discussion about that glide scope being out of service, but there are a number of other tools available to the pilots -- some less sophisticated like the precision approach lights -- show you if you are too high or too low coming in."

Witnesses said it appeared the 777 was coming in too slowly and at a bad angle Saturday when approached the runway at the end of its journey from South Korea. The resulting crash killed two passengers and left several injured.

Hersman said errors during landing remained a major safety issue for aviation. "We see a lot of runway crashes, either landing short or landing long, runway overruns, runway excursions," she said. "It is a very significant threat in the aviation environment and we want to understand what was going on with this crew and this air plane so we can learn from it."

CNN said the pilots had been questioned by law enforcement officers Saturday and would be interviewed by the NTSB in the near future.

Hersman said the interviews with the pilots and examination of flight-recorder data needed to be completed before a cause of the crash could be determined.

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