Korean Pilots Rely on Autopilot: Aviators

They're not trained much on manual flying, pilots say

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 16, 2013 8:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – A potentially telling revelation in the wake of the Asiana Airlines crash landing at the San Francisco airport: Asiana pilots have little training on manual flying and visual approaches, according to three pilots Bloomberg spoke to who have either flown for Asiana or helped train Korean crews. One of the three recalls preparing to land an Asiana jet at LAX and asking his Korean co-pilot to make a visual approach. The co-pilot couldn't do it, forcing the American captain to take over in order to avoid an accident. The co-pilot's explanation to him afterward: "I don't need to know this. We just don't do this." Explains the US captain, "You will never hear an Asiana pilot request a visual approach."

Since the Asiana pilots in the San Francisco incident were forced to use a visual approach due to the airport's closed glide slope, their manual flying skills are a focus for crash investigators. While hand-flying skills are integral in US pilot training, many experts say not just Korean pilots but other foreign pilots are deficient in that area, particularly since heavily automated planes are now the norm and many international flight crews spend most of their time on autopilot.

This July 6, 2013, file photo shows the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 on the ground after it crashed at the San Francisco International Airport, in San Francisco.
This July 6, 2013, file photo shows the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 on the ground after it crashed at the San Francisco International Airport, in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
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