Tuesday, July 9, 2013

On the Asiana 214 Crash

There was something deadly wrong in the one cell phone video of the actual SFO crash that has surfaced.  With the electronic glide slope system unavailable (as it was),  visual approach is necessarily more hand-flown using the old-time glide slope lights.  Hand flying experience is critical,  and too many of these "bus drivers" don't get it. 

That plane was about a span too low,  and way,  way,  way too slow (near-stall nose-up attitude painfully obvious) at about 1/4 mile from the marks,  a furlong from the seawall.  Two somebodies in the cockpit clearly weren't watching the airspeed indicator. 

The low altitude can be dealt-with as long as you have adequate speed.  But low speed is inevitably an accident about to happen.

And it did.


some second thoughts 7-10-13:

As I said,  nobody looked at the airspeed indicator.  Needle should have been hitting the flaps/gear white line,  or the stick shaker wouldn't have kicked in.  You'd think that with 3 or 4 pairs of eyes in the cockpit,  somebody would have looked at the IAS.  Apparently not,  and that's an artifact of over-automation in the cockpit.  Bus drivers,  not pilots.
I know nothing of the automatic electronics,  not even the damn radio,  but I do know stick-and-rudder flying.  I could have gotten the damn thing down in better shape than they did,  and I have not flown anything for almost 15 years now.  My weak spot would have been the flare:  not having any experience at that cockpit height above ground,  no feel for exactly where all the bits of the plane are located,  relative to me in that seat.
I've never held a pilot's license,  but stick-and-rudder flying does come easily to me  precisely because I was originally educated as an aeronautical engineer.  I know exactly how planes work.  Under the eye of an appropriate pilot,  in past decades I have flown two light plane types,  and two multi-engine types.  It wasn't hard. 


  1. Surprising after this length of time and all these 777 pilots interviewed in the news media about the crash nobody has yet offered an explanation of how the autothrottle could be armed and not be controlling the air speed.

    Bob Clark

  2. Hi Bob: Autothrottle in an aircraft works pretty much like the speed control in your car. It can't work at all if you don't turn it on. But even if it's on, it doesn't do anything unless you actually set it. They seem to have forgotten to set it. --- GW