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USC Viterbi Faculty Weigh In On Asiana Airlines Crash

Faculty discuss possible causes and factors that contributed to the jetliner crash at San Francisco International Airport
By: Stephanie Shimada
July 16, 2013 —

On Saturday, July 6, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 from Seoul, South Korea, crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport. Three passengers died and more than 180 were injured when the Boeing 777, which was traveling too low and too slow, clipped a rocky seawall just short of the runway and caught on fire. Investigators are currently working to understand the cause of the accident.

Media outlets reached out to several experts from USC Viterbi’s Aviation Safety and Security Program to gain insight into possible causes and factors that contributed to the crash. USC experts included Thomas Anthony, director of the Aviation Safety and Security Program, as well as USC Viterbi faculty Najmedin Meshkati, Frank J. Tullo, Douglas Moss, and Michael L. Barr.

Below is a sampling of the media stories that featured these experts. Click on the logos to read the stories. 

Several Korean aviation accident investigators looking into the Asiana crash received their training at the USC Crash Lab. Thomas Anthony, instructor of aviation security program management and aircraft accident investigations at USC Viterbi, and Michael Barr, instructor of aviation safety management systems, provided insight into potential causes of the crash.
  USC Viterbi’s Thomas Anthony explained that aircraft accidents are the result of a chain of events, and provided insight into the extensive, multi-faceted process that must go into this type of investigation. 
  USC Viterbi’s Michael Barr said that at 500 feet the pilots should have been on course for a stable landing, including proper air speed. Otherwise, they should have aborted the landing. 
  USC Viterbi’s Michael Barr and Najmedin Meshkati, instructor of human factor in aviation safety at USC Viterbi, suggested that questionable cockpit decision-making during the landing of the flight contributed to the crash of the jetliner.
  USC Viterbi’s Najmedin Meshkati explained that the flight might have been caused by the pilots’ overreliance on technology and automation, which can lead to an “atrophy of critical flying skills.”
  USC Viterbi’s Thomas Anthony and Frank Tullo, instructor of human factors in aviation safety at USC Viterbi, explained that the pilots’ failure to monitor and effectively communicate about the flying pilot’s course might have played a role in the crash.
  USC Viterbi’s Michael Barr discussed how the delayed onset of the fire on the Asiana Flight allowed more passengers the chance to escape to safety, which contributed to keeping the death toll low.
  Douglas Moss, instructor of human factors in aviation safety at USC Viterbi, explained that automation confusion among the pilots contributed to the crash, including confusion over the state of the auto-throttle and pitch mode.  
  USC Viterbi’s Michael Barr weighed in on factors that contributed to the crash, and explained that many questions must still be answered before the actual cause can be determined.