Asiana Air Vows to Build ‘Systematic’ Safety Network After Crash

Asiana Airlines Inc., the South Korean carrier that suffered a fatal jet crash in San Francisco in July, said it’s seeking “fundamental improvement” of its safety systems in an overhaul following the accident.

The company will achieve that by building a systematic safety management structure, Akiyoshi Yamamura, senior executive vice president of safety and security management, said today in Seoul. He didn’t give a timeline or further specifics about the changes.

“Our team is committed to making a thorough and detailed review of processes before implementing a more complete and perfect safety plan,” Yamamura told reporters. “Great haste makes great waste.”

Asiana said in September that it would increase the number of hours of flight-simulation training for its pilots to approach airports without landing-guidance systems. The carrier’s manual flying skills and cockpit teamwork are under investigation in the U.S. following the crash of Asiana Flight 214, which struck a seawall short of the San Francisco airport on July 6, killing three people.

The airline also said it would hire another company to evaluate its procedures, add safety specialists and boost maintenance. South Korea’s government is also reviewing plans to improve airline safety standards, including steeper penalties for accidents that involve casualties and better pilot training.

Yamamura, 65, joined Asiana Dec. 1 to help revamp the airlines safety program. Before that, he worked for All Nippon Airways Co. as a pilot and safety officer.

U.S. Hearing

Asiana fell 0.8 percent to 4,920 won as of 11:35 a.m. in Seoul. The stock has fallen 21 percent this year, compared with a 0.3 percent decline in the benchmark Kospi index.

Yamamura said today he will attend the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigative hearing on the San Francisco accident next week in Washington.

While flying airplanes on automated system has contributed significantly to safety of flights, the training program is important, Yamamura said.

“If pilots are properly trained, there should be no problem for them to use autopilot to fly the airplanes safer,” Yamamura said. “The design concept of automation is working very well to make flights much easier. Easier means safer.”

The probe’s focus on manual flying skills follows the crash that took place after instruments proved insufficient.

Co-pilot Lee Kang Kuk, who had only 43 hours of experience flying a Boeing Co. 777 model, was using a visual approach the day of the accident because the instrument landing system’s glide slope, which helps line up the correct path to the runway, was closed for construction. Former Asiana pilots and trainers have said in interviews that the company’s pilots were well trained on automatic systems and rarely flew manually.

Stricter Penalties

Since the accident, the South Korean government has been working to strengthen regulations on air safety standards.

The government is considering imposing stricter penalties starting as early as next year. Airlines that have accidents that result in less than five casualties can be ordered to stop operating for 30 days under current rules. More often, the punishment is a 500 million won ($471,120) penalty.

The government also plans to tighten regulations on pilot training and issuances of operating licenses to low-cost carriers, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. It will also consider setting rules to ban foreign airlines that are black-listed by the U.S., European Union and other industry groups from flying into the country.