The head of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) on Wednesday strongly criticized the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation of the July 6 crash landing of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200ER at San Francisco International Airport.
Opening ALPA’s annual safety forum in Washington, D.C., association president Capt. Lee Moak accused the NTSB and its chairman, Deborah Hersman, of seeking the media spotlight in releasing operational details of the Asiana crash. Hersman led regular daily briefings in San Francisco in the immediate aftermath of the accident. On July 15, the board said that it had concluded its on-scene phase of the investigation at the airport.
ALPA has already issued statements critical of the NTSB’s public release of crash information. “That fueled rampant speculation about the cause of the accident, and without all the facts surrounding a catastrophic event like this, partial or incomplete information, out of context, can lead to erroneous conclusions and misguided assessments of the crew’s intentions and actions,” Moak told the safety forum.
“We understand that an organization’s leader is ultimately responsible for, and accountable for, the actions of that organization’s members,” he added. “What we have seen in this instance is an organization that has chosen to deviate from internationally accepted and time-proven investigative processes and procedures in favor of increased media exposure and sensationalism.”
In response to earlier criticism by ALPA, the NTSB cited a need for “transparency” in the accident investigation. “We routinely provide the public with factual information throughout the investigative process,” spokesman Kelly Nantel told AIN. “For the public to have confidence in the investigative process, transparency and accuracy are critical.”
Moak said that ALPA has been “labeled” as opposing transparency. “Each of you know that couldn’t be farther from the truth,” he said. “ALPA fully supports open, objective and thorough investigations to find all factors involved in the accident.”