The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) yesterday lay the Probable Cause of the crash of the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 last year at San Francisco as pilot error, but in the process implicated a “complex” auto-throttle system as a contributing factor.
Not surprisingly, Boeing disagreed (“respectfully” so), nothing that 55m flights in the 777 had occurred without incident.
While we are not at all surprised at Boeing’s position (we would have been surprised had it been otherwise), we side with Boeing on this one.
We will grant that perhaps the auto-throttle system might be tweaked to make a safe airplane and safe system even better, incorporating an aural warning when necessary. And perhaps the training procedures could be made better and more clear. But in the end, it remains the responsibility of the cockpit crew to monitor instruments and speak up when things aren’t as they should be.
In this case, the flight was also under visual flight rules (VFR). So, the pilots should have been:
If the pilots had been doing their job, the plane almost certainly would not have crashed. The auto-throttle may have led the pilots to a false sense of security, but in the end they didn’t fly the airplane.
That’s was caused the crash.