My father was a F-8 driver and now retired pilot from AA. He received many theories about what occurred in that cockpit (sorry, no longer PC, flight deck) from his retired colleagues.
I do not endorse the below and am already regretting passing along this bigotry. I fly ANA, Cathy Pacific, and Singapore Airlines frequently and will do so again.
What happened to the B-777 flight is quite simple. They are Asian. They cannot, nor will they ever be, capable of a visual approach. Not in their skill set. They are totally directed in how to do every thing. Free thought is not allowed. Add the culture; not losing face, and the flight was doomed as soon as they were cleared for the visual. The landing speed of 137 kts, better know as Vref, is 1.3 above stall. All airplanes fly this speed. So dividing 137 by 1.3 = 105 or Vs (stall). Stick shaker is 1.07 Vs or in this case 112 Kts. So they slowed 25 kts or 25x1.151=28.7 Mph. When they finally play the cockpit voice recorder, you will find nobody said a word as the aircraft slowed. NOBODY! That is because to do so would have caused a loss of face! Many problems. It does not matter at all the guy only had 43 hrs in type. Not at all. He had plenty of time in 74's. An airplane is an airplane. They ALL fly the same way. (Except the piece of junk airbus) I have watched time after time Asian carriers cleared for visual approaches miss the runway, either too high or get low and miss. I have gotten on the radio and have told the controller - send them out for the ILS or they are not landing today. Needless to say, I have been in trouble many times because of it. The fact they waited til 1 or two kts above stick shaker to say something says volumes about the cockpit culture. When I was a check airman, doing the exact thing he was doing, I allowed abt 5 kts either side of Vref before correcting. You have to see if they will correct. Part of the learning curve. Was more tolerant if fast than slow. If they did not correct the situation in a timely manner, than I did. It's your Job!! The fact that all four pilots in that cockpit allowed that aircraft to slow to stick shaker and say nothing is beyond belief by western culture standards!!! They, the FAA and NTSB will dance around this fact, not want to offend anyone. This will also be tragic. So if the airline sounds Asian DO NOT get on it!!! We have been discussing over the last couple of years that pilots being trained today, with all the automation, lack basic flying skills. Both western and foreign. We see it in the Simulators every day. It is a guarantee , if they are Asian, and you take away the automation, it will not end well. Never does. But, by the same token, we have problems with the new breed of American pilots as well. Have had many a discussion with our FAA reps and they know it too. This problem will only get worse over time. Have a great day
------ Follow up post added July 14th, 2013 07:53 PM ------
Different guy. but more of the same....
Low-down on Korean pilots
The comments below about Asian pilots match up with some of my experience also. When I was instructing in the 737-300, 400, 500 at Boeing Flight Training (the predecessor to Alteon mentioned below) I trained many Chinese crews. Most of them were barely able to fly manually. We were appalled at their lack of basic airmenship. I washed out a 30 year, 20,000+ hour 707 captain, because he couldn’t fly and was unable to learn the 737 systems. It was amazing.
What we did learn was that prior to the Tianiman Square incident in Beijing, all pilot positions in China were controlled by politics. In China, you got into aviation because you had some relative who was highup in the Communist Party that got you the appointment. Once you were appointed, nothing short of death could get you out of that position. The captain I washed out was one of those political appointee types that should never have been there. To keep the really bad ones from killing themselves, the Chinese airlines used a peculiar command system in the airplane. The Captain was in charge of the flight and he sat in the right seat where he could direct the rest of the crew. The pilot flying was in the left seat and flew the airplane and did much of the system control switchology from that seat. The flight engineer sat behind the right seat and did his thing. Also on board was usually a navigator, a radio operator, and a third pilot in the jump seat who also helped with the overhead panel switches. Basically the Captain said OK let’s go and everybody did whatever it took to go flying while he looked around and pretended to be in charge. I learned about this operational methodology sometime after he failed and went home. With that background, it is no surprise that he couldn’t fly or operate aircraft systems.
All Chinese airlines now use modern US operational methodologies. But this didn’t start until around 1990 or so. They still have a long ways to go to become on a par with professional airline pilots from Western and European countries. They are taught to fly the airplane by rote and to use the automation from about 400 AGL on takeoff and to do an autoland if the landing conditions are tricky like crosswinds above 10 knots or so. They figure that the automation does a better job than the pilots can so they should use it. This was always a problem for the Boeing IPs that went along with an initial delivery to an airline. The Boeing guys insisted that the pilots they checked out should be able to manually fly the airplane. After all, these were usually the senior IPs for the airline and one would expect that, at the very least, they should be able to fly. There were lots of times when a 1 month checkout time extended into 4 to 6 months before the Boeing guys would sign them off.
------ Follow up post added July 14th, 2013 07:57 PM ------
Good article from Bloomberg:
Asiana Crash Shows Lessons of Pilots Trumping Technology
As planemakers build ever-safer jets, it’s often the split-second decisions by humans at the controls that can make the biggest difference between a smooth landing and a flight that ends in disaster.
The last moments of Asiana Airlines Inc. (020560) Flight 214, which inexplicably slowed on its final approach, underscore the stakes in the cockpit even in aircraft as sophisticated as Boeing Co. (BA)’s 777, according to safety consultants, retired pilots and aviation scholars following the U.S. investigation.
Technological advances such as ground-warning systems and seats that can withstand greater impact helped produce the longest fatality-free run in U.S. aviation since the jet age began, based on data compiled by Bloomberg. Now, U.S. investigators are working to determine whether Flight 214’s pilots, with all the safety features at their disposal, could have done more to prevent a crash that left two passengers dead.
“Whether it’s a disaster or a close call comes down to the pilot,” said Les Westbrooks, a former commercial and military pilot who now teaches airline operations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “Airplanes have incredible automation. But when the human has to exercise judgment, you can’t design around that.”
The July 6 crash was the worst on U.S. soil since 2009, and the first involving fatalities on a large jet in the U.S. since 2001. The focus on avoiding crashes spans advances such as the 777’s automatic systems to keep from flying too slowly to cockpit-behavior studies identifying common pilot lapses.
Yet even with those safeguards, risks as simple as fatigue remain.
“Show me a pilot who’s ever flown who hasn’t been in that condition at some point,” said Ross “Rusty” Aimer, an aviation safety consultant in Los Angeles and retired United Airlines (UAL) pilot with 30,000 hours of flying, including 1,500 hours on the 777.
Aimer recalled being at the controls of a Boeing 747 nearing Tel Aviv airport about 30 years ago when, worn out from delays and tight schedules, he briefly fell asleep and missed a couple of pre-landing checklist items recited by his co-pilot.
Trying to track an expanding array of safety-enhancing features -- including 3-D weather radar and data projected so that pilots see it while looking through the windscreen -- can be a distraction, while increased automation of basic flight functions may dull pilots’ response times.
“The stick-and-rudder skills get lost sometimes,” said Mark Epperson, a retired Boeing 767 captain who supervised pilot training as a former chief pilot for AMR Corp. (AAMRQ)’s American Airlines in San Francisco.
An abundance of instruments also can’t prevent a misreading of the data and a flawed response. Investigators said pilots failed to react properly to stall warnings in the February 2009 crash of a regional jet operated by Pinnacle Airlines Corp.’s Colgan unit, which killed 49, and the loss of an Air France jet four months later with all 228 people aboard.
“Pilots may think the aircraft is in a particular flight control state when in fact it is not,” said Todd Curtis, founder of safety consultant AirSafe.com and a former safety analyst at Boeing. The National Transportation Safety Board “will very likely be looking at” those issues in the Asiana probe.
The junior pilot of the Asiana jet, 46-year-old Lee Kang Kuk, was at the controls and was in training on the 777 with just 43 hours of experience on that model, and 9,793 flight hours, according to the airline. Before switching to the larger two-aisle jet, he flew the smaller Boeing 737, whose fuselage is about the same diameter as a 777’s engine.
The senior pilot, 49-year-old Lee Jung Min, had 3,220 hours on the 777 and 12,387 career hours. He received his trainer license for the model last month, and was making his first flight in that role. It was the first time the two pilots had flown together, the NTSB said yesterday.
Investigators will review whether a cultural aversion to disagreeing with a colleague played a role in the Asiana crash, said David Greenberg, a former executive vice president of operations at Korean Air Lines Co. (03490)
In a 1997 fatal crash in Guam, a Korean Air captain ignored misgivings voiced by other crew members and followed a radio signal he wrongly thought was a glide-slope indicator that gives pilots a steady descent path, investigators found.
“Respect for age and seniority runs very deep” in Asia, said Greenberg, who spent five years at Korean Air after that accident helping retrain pilots to improve cockpit culture.
Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger showed flying and communication skill in the 2009 splashdown by a US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) jet that was dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson,” according to Peter Goelz, a former NTSB member.
When Canada geese flew into the engines during takeoff and crippled the single-aisle Airbus SAS A320, Sullenberger landed gently enough on New York’s Hudson River to keep the jet afloat until all 155 people on board were rescued. Then 58, the former U.S. Air Force pilot had 19,000 flight hours, 3,800 of them in an A320, and was also certified on commercial gliders.
“Sullenberger was a little bit of an old-school pilot,” said Goelz, who is now a senior vice president with consultant O’Neill & Associates in Washington. “He knew his aircraft and its capabilities, and when you listen to the cockpit recorder you say, ‘This guy really was in command of the situation and was making the right decisions at the right times. He wasn’t hesitant.’”
Transcripts of cockpit conversations showed Sullenberger calmly saying “my aircraft” as he took the controls from his less experienced co-pilot, who had 35 flight hours in an A320, then reviewing his options before informing air-traffic controllers: “We’re gonna be in the Hudson.”
He then spoke a single word to passengers: “Evacuate.”
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