ALPA chief accuses NTSB of media "sensationalism"

Washington DC
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Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) president Lee Moak has struck back at National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) leaders for disclosing too many details to the media in the immediate aftermath of the Asiana Airlines flight 214 crash in San Francisco on 6 July.

"What we've seen in this instance is an organisation that has chosen to deviate from internationally accepted and time-proven investigative processes and procedures in favour of increased media exposure and sensationalism," Moak says.

Moak's remarks at ALPA's Air Safety Forum in Washington DC on 17 July expand on his previous criticisms of the level of depth of information provided by NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman in the first few days following the crash of Asiana's Boeing 777-200ER.

Hersman said last week that the NTSB provides the same level of disclosure following accidents in any mode of transportation and that it is the only stakeholder in a crash investigation that purely represents the interests of the flying public.

Moak, however, bristled at the implication that ALPA's criticisms are intended to inhibit transparency or the investigative process.

"We were labelled with, 'We were against transparency'," Moak says. "As each of you know that couldn't be farther from the truth."

Instead, ALPA is concerned that releasing partial or incomplete information out of context can lead to incorrect or misguided conclusions about the crew's intentions or actions.

Information released by the NTSB put public scrutiny on the Asiana flight crew for approaching San Francisco Runway 28 Left well under the target reference speed and below the normal glide path. The crew attempted a go-around at the last moment, but the main landing gear clipped the sea wall at the threshold of the runway. The resulting crash killed three passengers and injured more than 180.

"Obviously, a well-rested, fully qualified, professional airline flight crew with decades of experience and tens of thousands of flight hours in multiple aircraft does not set out to purposely fly into a sea wall," Moak says. "The question remains, how did events unfold as they did?"