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Asiana says pilot error partly to blame for San Francisco plane crash

By Stella Kim and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 6:50 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Asiana Airlines says pilot error was partly to blame in last year's crash
  • The airline also cites auto throttle problems and inadequate warning systems
  • Three people died after the plane hit the seawall at San Francisco International Airport
  • The airline says the flight crew failed to execute a "timely go-around" when needed

(CNN) -- South Korea's Asiana Airlines admitted Tuesday that pilot error was partly to blame for the crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco last July, in which three people were killed.

Lee Hyomin, a spokeswoman for Asiana Airlines, said the pilot was not solely responsible for the crash but "could have failed to respond quickly" to factors including problems with the aircraft's auto throttle system.

The auto throttle problem was compounded by inadequate warning systems to alert the flight crew when the plane's airspeed fell too low, she said.

In this handout photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 sits just off the runway at San Francisco International Airport on Sunday, July 7. The Boeing 777 coming from Seoul, South Korea, crashed on landing on Saturday, July 6. Three passengers, all girls, died as a result of the first notable U.S. air crash in four years. In this handout photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 sits just off the runway at San Francisco International Airport on Sunday, July 7. The Boeing 777 coming from Seoul, South Korea, crashed on landing on Saturday, July 6. Three passengers, all girls, died as a result of the first notable U.S. air crash in four years.
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The spokeswoman also cited the "flight crew's failure to execute a timely go-around when the conditions required it by the company's procedures."

Another contributing factor was "air traffic control instructions and procedures that led to an excessive pilot workload during a high-energy final approach," she said.

As well as the three who died, scores of passengers were injured when the Boeing 777 struck the seawall at San Francisco International Airport and tumbled down the runway.

In January, Asiana filed a lawsuit against Boeing alleging that some equipment on the plane was improperly installed or defective, resulting in inadequate warnings for the pilots about low airspeed.

U.S. investigators have also looked at what part an airport navigation system that was out of service while runway improvements were made may have played in the crash.

Flight 214's pilot, Capt. Lee Kang Kuk, told the National Transportation Safety Board last year that he found it "very stressful, very difficult" to land without the glideslope indicator that helps pilots determine whether the plane is too high or too low during approach.

In February, the U.S. Department of Transportation fined Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing properly to assist families affected by the crash.

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