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Report Says FAA Failing To Ensure Manual Flying Skills

The National Transportation Safety Board in 2014 found that an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crashed and caught fire at San Francisco Airport in 2013 because the pilot lacked critical skills and the flight crew relied too heavily on an automated system it did not fully understand. Three people died and 49 others were seriously injured in the crash. ( More...

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bentwing60 17
Another one that will never go away. Kinda hard to blame the FAA for the training standards and cockpit culture in the Asiana incident when the crew is operating under the auspices of a foreign air carrier certificate. That is the domain of ICAO and the aviation certifying agency in the air carriers native country. Agree totally about the reliance on automation. When I typed in the Lear, it was all done in the airplane, do or die, (or bust). In the C650 it was in the sim. and if you repeatedly leaned on the autopilot, they would fail it, again, you were on your own. When I typed in the Challenger series, If you couldn't master and rely on the automation, they busted you. Completely different mindset! Now it is you and the automation, never mind that they rarely fail it in the sim. Can you say AAF447, et. al.
bbabis 4
Props bentwing. As with you years ago, during my first few types I only used the autopilot when they made me use it and it was the first thing turned off when I needed absolute control of the sim or aircraft. You only had to demonstrate one fully coupled approach. Now, pushing that red button is the quickest bust to a checkride. Of course now we've done a 180 and only one approach has to be flown with "raw data" but that term is loosely defined and I've seen some pretty poor attempts given passing grades. As tech moves on, it will become impossible to truly disengage the autopilot and we will have to do our best to work with it.
Highflyer1950 3
Well said.
Peter Cooper 6
Preacher1 where are you when we need you. I'd love to see his response.
Roger Parish 1
Are you not aware that preacher1 died recently?
joel wiley 2
I think he does, and is expressing how he is missed by many. Myself included
bentwing60 1
lynx318 1
Agreed, would have appreciated his insights on this. Thing that worries me on another level is the push towards self drive cars. This could be taken as a warning to the auto industry, one day we might forget how to drive.
Mary Mitton 5
I retired in 1999, aged out. Many of the senior pilots had the habit of hand flying when below 10,000 feet. Autopilot, or George as we called it, flew the rest. Most of these pilots had tail-wheel time as well. Loved my J-3.
Egadnow 2
You are of the old school. Wish the Newbies would follow your excellent example!
Nowadays most appear to disengage the AP just above minimums. Whatever happened to the love of flying?
ken young 1
Check this out.....I theorize that major carriers concerned with the bottom line have rules in place that restrict hand flying because the bean counters have convinced the corporate brass that automated operations are less costly....What do you think?
sparkie624 9
I would agree this is a problem.... FAA forcing most pilots to use the AutoPilot does not allow many crews the opportunity to truly fly the plane... I remember once I had a captain that I had to defer his auto pilot and he said thanks... He needed the hands on time... Then I had another captain who said: "You can't mel my autopilot, I have 3 2 hour legs and have a check captain with me... I truly believe crews need more time hands on vs be an over see'r of what is going on...
There have been too many incidents in the last few years due to pilots who seem to be no more than glorified AP jockeys. The AP has become less of an aid and more of a crutch. Perhaps we need to require checkrides with AP Inop as part of our License requirements and recurrent training. This is not assisted by OP Specs that limit hand flying and require use of the AP. We have done such a good job to tackle, WX, MX and system flaws we cannot let Human Factors defeat us.
It would be interesting to put some of these AP guys at the controls of a 172 and see if they can get it airborne, fly a proper circuit, and land it.
bbabis 3
If its truly an ap pilot, the same chance as winning the powerball.
Mike Mohle 4
What does FAA have to do with this anyway? They do not train pilots, thankfully!
Egadnow 1
Yes, thankfully, but they set the standards.
Mike Mohle 3
But they are still clueless to the real world of aviation.
Egadnow 1
Egadnow 4
I have been preaching for years that airline pilots need more hands on time, perhaps even in a C172.
Just plain old lack of manual flying proficiency is now the leading cause of serious accidents.
The FAA and airlines are beginning to realize that! Dr. Jim. CFI 40+ years.
Now retired since 2000. It is not a surprised FAA is concerned about over reliance on automation. The last AOPA meeting even discussed over dependance on automation and GPS. I agree FAA has no control over foreign air carrier training. My opinion the SFO Asiana crash was inexcusable. It seems the pilot was just along for the automation ride to the scene of the crash. My airline start in props and round dials and onto Electra, Douglas and Boeing. First sim takeoff in the 767 had the instructor lean over and tell me to engage the autopilot at 1000 agl. My response was a preference to get the feel of the a/c before automation. Response was that airline teaches automation. Rated on the 767 and the only a/c I felt unqualified on until about 100 hours after a lot of hand flying. I got tired of new people asking what the a/c was doing now? My response was the a/c is doing what you told it to do. Well, now a complement for automation: CAT 3B at Heathrow with 150 meter minimum pulled us out of the Bovingdon stack top to be the only landing out of of at least 10 others.
matt jensen 2
Too much dependency on computers
James Fritz 1
Were there and are there any reliable reports as to what consequences were suffered by the Asiana Airline and the pilots that causes the San Francisco tragedy? Was that not clearly a case of criminal negligence requiring severe penalties, heavy fines, loss of licenses and long jail times for the pilots and officials of the Airline? They probably only recieved a slap on the wrist, a lecture and told not to do it again. Until there are severe consequences to all who cause these terrible tragedies they will continue and it is only a matter of time until the next such event occurs. It requires some time and effort but it is worth it for all airline passengers to check the safety records, mainly of the foreign airlines, before booking a seat on any airline. Loss of business for the unsafe airlines is the only thing that will make them change for the better, if they want to stay in business.
Keith Shiver 1
Unacceptable...anytime any company provides any goods / services within the borders of the US, they should be held to and subject to the same standards / laws of the US or provide those goods / services elsewhere.
skyddog 1
Im just a lowly flight instructor, but I believe (and maintain) that a pilot should know how to proficiently use all the equipment on the aircraft....autopilot and the flight controls,.... flight instruments and visual skills. Yes, eyes and brains are part of the "equipment" on an aircraft, unless it's unmanned.
Peter Maas 1
all pilots must be trained manual flying skills. Don't always believe in digital read-outs.
My wife and I taught at RCAF #1 Fighter Wing in Marville France.We had two F104 Squadrons and a Com Squadron with DC3's and Bristol Freighters. Because schoolies were given Officer Mess privledges (and spent a lot of time there). Most of our pilot friends are retired airline pilots. early 70's now. Until 1966 these guys training started on the single engine chipmunk,the to the Harvard (Texan), then to the T33. They were then put on jets or twin prop pistons (Beachcraft). By the time they joined the airlines in the mid to late 60's most of them had 3500 hours or more flying in Europe with TACAN, compass, Radio beacons and dead reckoning to navigate. We still keep in touch. Training in 66 started on the Tutor bypassing the single engine prop planes. Unfortunately the military cannot come close to supplying the demand for commercial pilots, A couple of them told me that there were a lot of mediocre to poor pilots on our airlines. I am sure it is far worse now.
Bryan Jensen 1
I am a flight instructor with over 35,000 hours. Most of it instructing since 1971. I also flew for the famed Rocky Mountain Airways in Colorado, charter, corporate, and bush, but my main love and interest has been teaching pvt, com'l, multiengine, instrument, and ATP. Several years ago I perceived what I saw to be a serious lack of airmanship and I wrote a 50 0dd page manual titled "On Being An Airplane Pilot Not An Airplane Driver" meant to be read by everyone who flies from student through ATP and military.. I need help getting it published and marketed to the aviation community. I believe it will be instrumental in preventing the Air Carrier and other loss of control accidents we have seen in recent years. If there is someone out their that can help me get it to market, please help. Bryan Jensen, [email protected], 352-335-0366 hm, 352-317-3389 cel.
Mike Mohle 1
Have you looked into Amazon self-publishing? A friend did an "auto" on his military career and it was very reasonable. I do not know the details however, sorry.
russ burke 1
Get in touch with Dr. Mike Hakim at [email protected] in Yukon OK. Mike is a retired FAA manager teaching here at the MMAC FAA Center in OKC. I worked with Mike and he is a great guy! Best of Luck and AIM HIGH!

Russ Burke
Aircraft Services Inc.
Edmond, OK
[email protected]
Paul Green 0
This was a Korean Air line crash, not a aircraft operated by any American airline or crew. The weather at SFO that day was perfect, no clouds, no winds of any kind, unlimited vis. If the crew could not do a visual approach in clear weather without a LOC/GS, what were they doing flying a B-777? Its private pilot 101 for crying out loud.
Ian Wright 2
Sorry, I may be mistaken, but I thought the airline was ANA and they're Japanese? Even so, the same point about foreign operator applies obviously. I think it's interesting that airlines like ANA operate in close alliance with US carriers (in their case United). I quite often get routed (by United) on ANA flights. Beyond the ICAO and the national aviation authority, perhaps the airline alliance partners should take an interest in ensuring they're sending business to airlines using pilots as equally well qualified as their own? Or perhaps the problem is that the US carrier's pilots are equally qualified - in which case we all have a problem...
James Fritz 1
Correct except that the winds were reported to be about 5-7knots causing only very small waves which from the altitude they were at during most of the approach would have appeared to be near flat and of little or no use as a visual clue to determine height above surface which I thin may have contributed significantly to the crew ignoring the PAPI lights while on approach and letting the B-777 get so slow and low so far from the end of the runway. Sully also mentioned the depth perception factor soon after the crash.
Combined with their lack of proper training and over reliance on automation were major factors that caused the crash plus the pilot at the controls admitted he was uncomfortable with the situation when the tower gave them a visual approach. Seems he was too proud to admit it at the time and continued the approach, thus committing one of the pilot's most valid rules: when in doubt don't. He should have either condescended to the check pilot(trainer Caption)to take over the approach and landing or declined the visual runway approach and requested an approach for the runway that had the fully functioning ILS, assuming that it would have been long enough for the B-777 to safely land upon.
lvenable 1
I find it absurd that a pilot would be looking out the window to determine his altitude.
James Fritz 1
The term altitude may be used at any time during a flight to express the height of the aircraft above the earth's surface and pilots use their altimeter as well as the view out the windshield to determine their altitude during the final portions of the landing.
Pilots don't look out the window to determine altitude, they use an altimeter.
James Fritz 1
Pilots use their altimeter as well as looking out the window to determine their height above the surface during any portion of the flight. When nearing the runway the pilot looks forward to determine the height above the surface so as to determine when to stop the descent and complete the landing on the runway.
That is correct! That's why it's referred to as a "visual approach". However, the "altitude determination" is not made by glancing at the ground to discern that one is descending through 3,468 feet on their visual approach, we use the altimeter for that.
Paul Green 1
In Korea, they have what is called the Korean Air Force Mafia. The PIC in the left seat may have been a captain in the AF, but the copilot may have been a General...guess who is in command. That's right, the copilot. There is no CRM or any feedback or a way we do things. So, no crew member would dare back talk the general or point out errors before they get out of hand...reason why I know, did some training for these guys. I quit because it was a lost cause. If you check any Korean accidents, you will find bone head errors.
Just my thoughts.
James Fritz 1
Can fully understand why you quit...must have been very frustrating trying to get past thousands of years of bone head culture issues that clash with proper flight training. Thing is there needs to be an international effort to inform the flying public beyond the ICAO that could be easily accessed by the public and also posted obviously online and at all airline airports so the public can get to know which airlines are not safe. Probably won't happen though....fear of slander/liability lawsuits, etc. Most passengers don't know that there are some online sites where the safety records of an airline can be checked, assuming that they can access the internet at all.
joel wiley 1
PF was a senior pilot, had several thousand hours in Airbus, but only 40 odd hours in 777, including the subject flight. Overlooked FMC worked somewhat differently and missed throttle setting. CRM and basic pilot skills inadequate.


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