IFALPA Supports APU at NTSB Investigative Hearing into Asiana Flight 214
WASHINGTON -- December 11, 2013
On Wednesday, The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations
(IFALPA) and the Air Line Pilots’ Association, International (ALPA-I)
supported the Asiana Pilot Union (APU) as they participated in the National
Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigative hearing on the Asiana 214
accident, which occurred on 6 July 2013 upon landing at San Francisco
International Airport, resulting in three deaths and more than 180 injuries.
This marks the first time in more than 20 years IFALPA has partaken in a
hearing in support of a member association.
Today’s hearing concentrated on pilots’ understanding of the Boeing 777
aircraft’s automated speed-control feature design as well as airline training,
human factors and airport emergency response. Documents were discussed that
indicated that concerns regarding the automated controls, particularly the
‘autothrottle wake up’ feature, had been identified as a potential safety
hazard due to the possibility of pilot misunderstanding, one such document
being EASA’s B787 DeBrief Note issued in May 2011. IFALPA believes that for
modern sophisticated airline aircraft, the combination of automation
capability, aircraft design, certification and subsequent pilot training on
critical systems must be carefully developed and validated to be comprehensive
in order to ensure we maintain the high level of safety that our industry has
IFALPA acknowledges that the pilot’s job in the cockpit has evolved over time
into one that is increasingly reliant on the accuracy of automation. Although
automation tools allow the pilot to devote more time to the mental tasks
associated with flying, the pilot must remain vigilant for potential
environmental “threats,” and this has the potential for the crew to become
less involved with the physical manipulation of the aircraft.
IFALPA systematically rejects the notion that pilots are ‘forgetting how to
fly.’ “Automated systems actually require the pilot to be more of a pilot, and
systems of systems manager. Pilots’ knowledge and skill have actually
increased as a result of increased automation,” said Capt. Dave McKenney,
Human Factors Chairman for IFALPA. FAA’s Dr. Kathy Abbott also testified to
the value of a well-trained airline pilot as a critical means to identify and
mitigate hazards in modern flight deck operations. Used properly and combined
with a thorough training, both in “hand-flying” and use of automation as with
all aircraft systems, computerized cockpit features can greatly benefit the
pilot and aircraft passengers. “We apply automation as a tool to support the
pilot, not replace the pilot,” said witness Capt. John Cashman, retired Boeing
B777 Chief Pilot. Like any tool, automation must properly be used, and its use
can vary from flight to flight.
Following NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman’s opening statement, the hearing
witnesses, which included representatives of the Federal Aviation
Administration, Boeing, Asiana Airlines, and the Korean Office of Civil
Aviation, were introduced. Four technical panels were formed to answer
questions from NTSB Board members, technical staff, and parties about flight
deck design concepts and characteristics, pilot training on automated systems
and visual approach procedures, pilot awareness in highly automated aircraft,
emergency response, and cabin safety.
IFALPA Executive vice-president Professional Affairs Capt. Fanie Coetzee and
former IFALPA Representative to ICAO, Capt. Paul McCarthy, and representatives
from ALPA-Korea and ALPA-I supported the APU team through the proceedings,
while Capt. Dave McKenney served as a witness in Panel 3: Effects and
Influence of Automation on Human Performance in the Accident Sequence.
In the wake of the hearing, IFALPA reiterates its strong support for an
objective accident investigation process through the collection of all the
facts needed to draw an accurate analysis of events that may lead to an
accident in the appropriate operational context.
IFALPA appreciates the opportunity to participate in this hearing and would
like to thank the NTSB for recognizing the value of the international pilot
voice by making the APU a party to the hearing, and thank the APU for allowing
us to help them through this process. It is important that the APU and IFALPA
be involved in this hearing, as we were able to bring a wealth of aviation
experience to the proceedings. IFALPA’s resources are at the disposal of the
NTSB or any state investigative agency, and we freely offer our assistance in
gathering those facts and any other information, which may be pertinent to
this or any other case.
Note to Editors: The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations
represents in excess of 100,000 pilots in more than 100 countries worldwide.
IFALPA’s mission is to be the global voice of airline pilots, promoting the
highest level of aviation safety and security world-wide and providing
services, support and representation to all of its Member Associations.
See the Federation’s website: www.ifalpa.org
For more information contact Valerie McLeod, IFALPA Communications
Coordinator, at tel +1 514 419 1191 or email@example.com.
Valerie McLeod, Communications Coordinator
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