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Air Safety and the Asiana Airlines Crash Essay

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Air Safety and the Asiana Airlines Crash A1


A2 Outline

I.    Introduction
II.    Asiana Airlines
A.    Company Information
B.    Safety Record
III.    The Crash
A.    The Crew and Passengers
B.    Timing and Airspeed
IV.    Airline Safety
V.    Conclusion A3
VI.    Works Cited

 
 Introduction A4


        On July 6, 2013, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed on its final approach to San Francisco International Airport. The flight was coming from its hub airport, Incheon International Airport in South Korea, and everything appeared normal until the last few moments of the landing sequence. Upon attempting to land, the plane's landing gear and tail hit the seawall at the beginning of the runway. This resulted in a crash that left three people dead and injured numerous others. While the number of deceased was actually low when compared with many other airplane crashes, it was still tragic for the families of the people who were lost. The traumatizing event will remain in the minds of the survivors, as well. There are not as many airplane crashes today as there were in the past, because flying has gotten safer. However, accidents can and do still occur. Airline safety is an issue that most people do not think about until an accident takes place. A5 The crash of Flight 214 highlighted concerns regarding air safety and pilot requirements, as well as bringing Asiana's safety record and training practices into the spotlight.

Asiana Airlines

Company Information
        Asiana Airlines used to be called Seoul Airlines. Along with Korean Air, it is one of two major airlines operating in and out of South Korea (Asiana, 2012). The domestic hub for the airline is at Gimpo International Airport, which its international hub operating out of Incheon International Airport. There are 14 domestic and 90 international passenger routes flown by the airline, along with 27 cargo routes (Asiana, 2012). Nearly 10,000 people work for the airline, the majority of who are based in Seoul. Asiana has been established and operating since 1988, and began regular service in December of that year (Asiana, 2012). It expanded rapidly, adding new routes, cities, and countries just about every year. As of 2012, it had 80 aircraft in its fleet (Asiana, 2012).

Safety Record

        When there is a crash or other accident with any airline, it is important to look at the safety record of that company to determine whether there has been a pattern of accidents. If that is determined to be the case, discovering and correcting the reasons behind the problem is very important for the future safety of passengers and crew. For Asiana, there were several incidents in the past. However, most of these were minor or did not result in injuries. Considering the number of flights Asiana engaged in on a daily basis, the number of incidents is actually quite low. There have been only three crashes or incidents resulting in fatalities in the last 25 years of the company's operation.

•    A6 In July , 1993, Flight 733 crashed short of the runway in Mokpo. The weather was bad, and the crew was on its third attempt at landing. Two crew members and 66 passengers died (Ranter, 1993).
•    In November, 1998, an Asiana plane that was trying to make a u-turn at Anchorage International Airport ended up embedding a winglet into the tail of another plane. No one was injured (Anchorage, 1998).
•    In August, 2004, Flight 204 had a near-collision with a Southwest Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport. This was the result of an error at air-traffic control. The Asiana pilot aborted the landing, which saved both of the planes. No one was injured (Oldham & Alonso-Zaldivar, 2004).
•    In April, 2009, Flight 271 made an emergency landing shortly after leaving Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Smoke was coming from an engine, and the plane returned to Seattle and landed safely (Compressor, 2009).
•    In July, 2011, Flight 991 (a cargo flight) crashed into the Pacific Ocean off of South Korea. Before the crash, a fire was reported in the cargo compartment (Cha & Park, 2011).
•    In July, 2013, Flight 214 (the subject of this paper) crashed at San Francisco International Airport. Three passengers were killed, although one death was the result of being run over by an emergency vehicle, and did not result from the actual plane crash (San Francisco, 2013).

The Crash

The Crew and Passengers

        When Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, 2013, there were three captains and one first officer onboard, as well as flight attendants, for a total of 16 crew members A7 (San-Hung 2013 ). Captain Lee Jeong-min was the instructor and pilot-in-command (San-Hung, 2013). He was in the co-pilot's seat at the time of the crash, and had 12,387 hours of flight experience (San-Hung, 2013). More than 3,000 of those hours were in the type of plane that crashed – a Boeing 777, although Flight 214 was Jeong-min's first flight as an instructor for that plane (San-Hung, 2013). Captain Lee Kang-kook was in the pilot's seat. He had accumulated nearly 10,000 hours of flight experience, but only 43 of those were in the 777 (San-Hung, 2013). He was halfway through Asiana's initial operating experience (IOE) requirements, and was still in training (San-Hung, 2013). The relief officer was in the jump seat and the relief captain was in the passenger cabin, in a first-class seat, at the time of the crash (San-Hung, 2013).
        There were a total of 291 passengers on the flight. One was killed in the crash, and another was run over on the runway by a rescue vehicle (Teenage, 2013). Both were 16-year-old girls from China. The girl killed by the rescue vehicle was covered in fire-fighting foam at the time, and was not seen by the rescuers attempting to get to the plane (Teenage, 2013). Ten people were admitted to San Francisco General in critical condition (Teenage, 2013). Another three went to Stanford Medical Center (Teenage, 2013). There were a total of 182 injured people admitted to nine hospitals throughout the area (Teenage, 2013). One of the passengers who was badly injured succumbed to her injuries on July 12, 2013, bringing the death toll to three (3rd, 2013). A large number of the passengers (including the three who were killed) were traveling from China to the United States for a summer camp A8 (Teenage, 2013 ).

Timing and Airspeed

        At the time of the accident, the weather report was for light winds and 10 mile visibility. The flight was cleared for runway 28L at 11:31 PDT (Hradecky, 2013). It was to be a visual approach. The pilot was told to maintain a 180 knot speed until reaching 5 miles from the runway (Hradecky, 2013). At 11:26, air traffic control at the San Francisco tower took over (Hradecky, 2013). When the plane was a mile and a half from the airport, clearance to land was given. At 11:28 am, the plane's landing gear and then its tail struck the seawall, short of the runway (Hradecky, 2013). The tail section and both engines separated from the plane. The wings and remainder of the fuselage rotated counter-clockwise 330 degrees, and the plane slid westward (Hradecky, 2013). Eventually, the plane came to rest on the runway, 2,000 feet from the seawall (Hradecky, 2013). Smoke began to rise from the wreckage, and evacuation slides were deployed. Many passengers were able to walk away from the wreckage, but some were trapped inside and/or injured to the point they could not leave the aircraft on their own (Hradecky, 2013).

Airline Safety

        The recent crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 has brought airline safety back into the spotlight. Every time there is a crash or incident with any airline, it is important to address the issues that caused it in an effort to avoid them in the future. It will be some time before official findings are presented on the exact cause of the crash of Flight 214. Until then, it is only speculation. Most of that speculation has been centered around the A9 possibility of pilot error . If that were to be the case, it is certainly not the first time a mistake by a pilot or other crew member has caused an airline to have an incident that has resulted in damage to the aircraft and/or loss of life.
        There are many human factors that can result in airline crashes (Dirty, 2011). One of the most common is lack of knowledge. It is vital that employees have adequate training, because the risk of an incident is much higher if they are not properly trained (Dirty, 2011). Complacency is also another serious problem in airline safety (Dirty, 2011). This comes into play when the job is too "routine" and the pilot or other crew members do not spend time focusing on everything that they are doing. By becoming complacent, they may fail in their task to provide a safe experience for the passengers. That does not always result in loss of life, but it can. Additionally, a lack of awareness can be a cause of airplane crashes (Dirty, 2011). For pilots that are not paying close attention, a simple issue can quickly become a much larger one. Speculatively, it is unlikely that the pilot of Flight 214 was complacent, because he had little flight time in that aircraft. He may, however, have been unaware of the risk of the seawall or not properly trained for the flight.
        Until the final report on the crash is released, the true cause of it will not be known. In the meantime, Asiana Airlines and other carriers should re-evaluate their training and other requirements for pilots and crew members. If there are complacency and training issues, taking care of them quickly can make air travel safer and help to avoid future crashes that are related to pilot error. There is always the possibility of equipment failure or other issues, some of which cannot be adjusted for. The goal is to mitigate or eliminate the risks over which human beings have some measure of control. By doing that, the number of airplane crashes and incidents can be reduced.

Conclusion

        The crash of Asiana Airlines' Flight 214 clearly highlighted concerns about air safety and pilot requirements. It also brought the company's safety record into the spotlight and produced questions regarding whether the pilot of the aircraft had enough training to fly safely. While air travel is still the safest method of travel for long distances, accidents like Flight 214 do raise questions about how airlines train and prepare their crews. Because most airplane crashes kill or injure a significant number of people, the goal is to reduce the number of crashes as much as possible. Airplanes are getting safer and accidents happen less often than in the past, but there is no way to completely avoid the risk, other than not to fly at all. For many people, getting on an airplane is a risk they are willing to take for the convenience it offers. Additionally, air travel will likely continue to get safer in the future. Careful crew screenings, rigorous requirements for pilots, and better, stronger, more durable airplanes will all help to enhance the flying experience and protect passengers from harm, even in the event of the unforeseen.

B1 References

3rd  fatality in Asiana flight crash. (2013). CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57593586/3rd-fatality-in-asiana-flight-crash/

Asiana Airlines. (2012). Sustainability Report 2012. Retrieved from https://flyasiana.com/download_file/ASIANA_AIRLINES_SR_2012_eng_low.pdf

Cha, S. & Park, K. (2011). Asiana Boeing 747 freighter crashes in South Korean waters. Bloomberg. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-28/asiana-boeing-747-freighter-crashes-in-korean-waters-correct-.html

Compressor stall blamed for 777 engine problem. (2009). KOMOnews.com. Retrieved from http://www.komonews.com/news/local/44319637.html  

Dirty dozen - errors - human factors. (2011). Aviation Glossary. Retrieved from http://aviationglossary.com/aviation-safety-terms/dirty-dozen-errors-human-factors/

Hradecky, S. (2013). Accident: Asiana B772 at San Francisco on Jul 6th 2013, touched down short of the runway, broke up and burst into flames. The Aviation Herald. Retrieved from http://avherald.com/h?article=464ef64f&opt=4096

Oldham, J. & Alonso-Zaldivar, R. (2004). Near miss reported at LAX in August. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2004/sep/01/local/me-lax1

Ranter , H. 1998. ASN Aircraft accident Ilyushin 62M RA-86564 Anchorage International Airport, AK (ANC). Aviation Safety Network. [23 July 2013].

Ranter,  Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-5Lp HL7229 Mokpo." Aviation Safety Network. 26 July 1993. Web.21 November 2008.

San Francisco Boeing 777 crash 'not mechanical failure.' (2013). BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23216587

Sang-Hun, C. (2013). Asiana President Says Pilot Was in Training. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/09/world/asia/asiana-airlines-san-francisco-plane-crash.html?_r=0

Teenage girl killed in Asiana crash was hit by fire truck, S.F. police say. (2013). CBS Interactive, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57593510/teenage-girl-killed-in-asiana-crash-was-hit-by-fire-truck-s.f-police-say/


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