The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA-I) and the International Federation of Airline Pilots (IFALPA) showed their support for the members of the Asiana Pilot Union (APU) when the NTSB hearing into Asiana Flight 214’s July 6 crash at San Francisco Airport. The NTSB’s hearings on the Asiana accident mark the first time in more than 20 years that IFALPA has participated in an accident investigation hearing to support a member association.
A primary topic was the Asiana pilot’s interaction with the automation of the Boeing 777. The union acknowledged that a pilot’s job has evolved into a series of tasks increasingly dependent upon the accuracy of cockpit automation. IFALPA said in a statement that it believes, “that for modern sophisticated airline aircraft, the combination of automation capability, aircraft design, certification and subsequent pilot training on critical systems must be carefully developed and validated to be comprehensive to ensure we maintain the high level of safety that our industry has achieved.”
The association said that while automation was designed to offer pilots more time to focus on the mental tasks of flying, crews must remain vigilant for potential threats. “This has the potential for the crew to stay less involved with the physical manipulation of the aircraft,” said the group. The union rejected the idea that pilots are so involved with onboard technology that they’re forgetting how to fly the aircraft when they’re needed.