Leadership

Pilots Group Questions Release of “Out-of-Context” Information on Asiana Crash

By / Jul 11, 2013 (photo by vsrivera/Flickr)

The National Transportation Safety Board has been reporting daily on its investigation into the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco, but the Air Line Pilots Association believes NTSB is releasing misleading information.

With the news media reporting almost around the clock on the investigation into what might have caused the crash landing of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport last weekend, the Air Line Pilots Association, International (APLA) is warning against jumping to any conclusions based on “premature release of data” by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The amount of data released publicly during the field portion of the accident investigation is unprecedented.

Still in the first week of its investigation, NTSB has reported on information obtained from the airplane’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, the pilots’ experience and backgrounds, and what was learned during interviews with crew members. A full report of the incident won’t be released for at least several months, according to an outline of the investigative process on NTSB’s website.

In a statement released Monday, ALPA, a pilots union representing more than 50,000 pilots and 33 airlines in the United States and Canada, said it was “stunned” by the amount of data being released so early in the investigation.

“The amount of data released publicly during the field portion of the accident investigation is unprecedented,” ALPA said. “We have seen in the past that publicizing this data before all of it can be collected and analyzed leads to erroneous conclusions that can actually interfere with the investigative process.”

Specifically, the group pointed to the release of information from the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder. “This premature release of partial data is often taken out of context and creates the impression that the NTSB has already determined probable cause even before the investigation has started,” ALPA said.

NTSB Chairwoman Debbie Hersman defended her agency’s work in a press conference on Tuesday.

“We work for the traveling public,” she told reporters. “We believe it is important to show our work.”

ALPA fired back with a second statement on Tuesday, requesting that NTSB answer several technical questions to help provide clearer context to the information that had already been disclosed.

“Without the full body of facts surrounding a catastrophic event, partial or incomplete information can … skew the perception of individuals’ behavior,” the group said. “This could then lead to misguided assessments of the crew’s intentions and actions.”

ALPA called on the international aviation community, including government and industry safety partners, to “redouble its efforts” to gather the facts of the incident and identify ways they can make safety improvements.

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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