July 8, 2013
An analysis of the Asiana crash in San Francisco. What went wrong, and why? Did pilot experience play a role? Were the challenges of SFO airport a factor? And what about the safety of Korean air carriers?
The full article is UP NOW IN SLATE MAGAZINE.
Follow-up: July 15
As I suspected might happen, the culture issue has now become part of the conversation, spurred by a series of email testimonials from U.S. pilots who taught and worked in Asia,vouching for the incompetence of Korean pilots. One of these, supposedly written by a former United Airlines captain, is particularly damning.
It irks me that so many of these accounts are neither signed nor dated. I’m by no means dismissing them entirely, but this stuff could be several years old. And if you don’t have the courage to date and sign your name to such a thing, you shouldn’t be sending it around. Even if some of the contentions are valid, the motives behind them become questionable.
It’s possible that some of what these testimonials say is relevant, and Korean aviation may still have some deficiencies to work through, which leaves me surprised and disappointed. Still, there’s a tone to the accounts that really bothers me. There’s a consensus building that is very anti-Korea and anti-Asia (in an air safety context), and while there might be some important factors in play, the whole thing strikes me as witch hunt-y.
And for what it’s worth, it remains true that Korea spent a lot of time and money overhauling its civil aviation system back in the 1990s. ICAO’s 2008 assessment said Korean aviation was, overall, the safest in the world, ahead of more than a hundred other countries, including the United States.
So, I’m not sure who or what to believe.