Asiana Crash Response to Families Prompts U.S. Agency Review

Asiana Airlines Inc. is under review by the U.S. Transportation Department on whether the South Korean carrier met its legal obligation to assist passengers’ families after a July crash in San Francisco.

The review, prompted by the National Transportation Safety Board, is the first time the board has raised concerns with the department over an airline’s assistance, said Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesman. A 1996 law requires airlines to provide aid such as posting toll-free numbers and providing lodging and transportation for family members after an accident.

“We didn’t feel that Asiana was providing that information in a timely fashion to the families as they should have, so we notified the DOT about that,” Holloway said in a telephone interview yesterday. Bill Mosley, a DOT spokesman, confirmed that the department is conducting a review.

The July 6 crash occurred when one of Seoul-based Asiana’s planes, carrying 291 passengers and 16 crew members, struck a seawall short of the San Francisco airport, resulting in three deaths and dozens of injuries. The pilots’ manual flying skills and cockpit teamwork are part of an NTSB investigation into the cause of crash, which has prompted the carrier to increase pilot training and begin an outside review of safety standards.

Kiwon Suh, an Asiana spokesman in South Korea, declined to comment.

The NTSB raised its concerns with the department immediately after the crash, Holloway said. Asiana’s aid plan, filed with the Transportation Department, was last updated in 2004, he said.

Associated Press reported the U.S. review earlier on Sept. 25.

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