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NTSB Hearing on SFO Asiana Crash Begins

"It's a fact-gathering phase of the process," says the NTSB. "The purpose is to gain more information from experts."

The wreckage of the Asiana aircraft sits on the tarmac. Credit: Patch archive
The wreckage of the Asiana aircraft sits on the tarmac. Credit: Patch archive
A two-day fact-finding hearing before the National Transportation Safety Board on the crash of an Asiana Airlines flight at San Francisco International Airport last July begins in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

The session at the NTSB's headquarters is part of the agency's ongoing investigation of the collision of Asiana Flight 214 with a seawall at the edge of the airport on July 6, according to NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway. "It's a fact-gathering phase of the process," Holloway said. "The purpose is to gain more information from experts."

Holloway said the board's final report, which will include a statement on the probable cause of the accident and recommendations for actions to address the problems found, may be completed by the summer of 2014.

Three Chinese schoolgirls died in the crash and its aftermath and more than 180 other passengers were injured when the low-flying Boeing 777 struck a seawall bordering San Francisco Bay and the tail section was separated from the aircraft's fuselage.

The jet had taken off from Seoul, South Korea, where Asiana is based, and stopped at Shanghai before heading to San Francisco.

The two-dozen witnesses at the hearing will include representatives of Asiana, Boeing Co., the Federal Aviation Administration and the Korean government Office of Civil Aviation. They will appear on five panels, each addressing a different topic.

The first panel Tuesday morning will discuss Boeing 777 flight deck design concepts and characteristics, to be followed by an afternoon panel on Asiana pilot training on Boeing 777 automated systems and visual approach procedures.

On Wednesday, the three topics will be the effects and influence of automation on human performance in the accident sequence; the emergency response; and airplane cabin crashworthiness and occupant protection.

After giving their presentations, the experts on each panel will be questioned by NTSB board members and technical staff and representatives of the parties in the probe, which include Asiana, the Asiana Pilot Union, Boeing, the city of San Francisco, and the FAA.

During initial fact-finding at the scene of the crash in July, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said the board planned to look into why the plane was going nearly 40 miles per hour below the recommended speed as it descended toward the runway; the four pilots' use of automated equipment; and factors that may have affected their performance.

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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