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Wednesday, 26 February 2014 03:57

Days after Asiana plane crash, families neglected

   LOS ANGELES (AP) — When anguished family members first called for information about their loved ones aboard a wrecked Asiana Airlines plane, instead of getting answers they had to navigate an automated reservation system.
   Even once Asiana finally set up a proper hotline, it would be five days before the South Korean airline connected with the families of all 291 passengers.
   Asiana's response to the deadly crash last summer near San Francisco earned quick criticism for its disarray. On Tuesday, it also earned a $500,000 penalty from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
   It's the first time federal officials have concluded that an airline broke laws requiring prompt and generous assistance for the loved ones of crash victims.
   Three people died and dozens were injured July 6 when Asiana Flight 214 clipped a seawall while landing at San Francisco International Airport. One of the victims, a 16 year old girl, apparently survived being ejected onto the tarmac, only to be run over by a fire truck.
   Many families live in South Korea or China, meaning the airline was their main source of information on the crash half a world away.
   "The last thing families and passengers should have to worry about at such a stressful time is how to get information from their carrier," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a prepared statement.
   Under a consent order the airline signed with the department, Asiana will pay a $400,000 fine and get a $100,000 credit for sponsoring conferences and training sessions through 2015 to discuss lessons learned from the situation.
   In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, Asiana spokeswoman Hyomin Lee said the airline "provided extensive support to the passengers and their families following the accident and will continue to do so."
   Asiana said in the consent order that its response was slowed because the crash occurred on a holiday weekend when staffing was short. The airline said it was not alone among foreign airlines with "few trained employees to attend to post-accident responsibilities."
   Asiana argued that it recovered quickly, noting that within a few days of the crash it had assigned a special representative to each passenger and family, flown in family members from overseas and provided professional crisis counseling.
   The consent order also laid out findings from the Department of Transportation's investigation. Among them:
   — Asiana generally "failed to commit sufficient resources" to help families; it wasn't until five days after the crash that its employees were meeting all responsibilities under U.S. law. The airline lacked translators and personnel trained in crash response.
   — It took Asiana more than 18 hours to staff a reliable toll-free hotline.
   — The law requires family notification as soon as practical, but Asiana had contacted just three-quarters of families within two days. It would take five days to contact every family.
   Congress required carriers to dedicate significant resources to families of passengers in the late 1990s, after airlines were roundly criticized for ignoring desperate requests for information after crashes.
   Last fall, the AP reviewed plans filed by two dozen foreign airlines and found cases in which carriers had not updated their family assistance plans as required.
   Since AP's story, several airlines have updated their plans with the Department of Transportation. Among them is Asiana's bigger rival, Korean Air.
   Many airlines invest in crash preparedness and family assistance planning, but a minority are "using lip service and euphemisms in their plans," said Robert A. Jensen, whose company has contracts with hundreds of airlines to help after an accident.
   "It's time that some of the airlines that have been flying under the radar be held accountable," said Jensen, CEO of Kenyon International Emergency Services. "Somebody finally got caught."
   The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the crash. Family members of some passengers have sued the airline in federal court.
Published in National News

   The NTSB and FAA are investigating a plane crash in Puerto Rico that killed a St. Louis native.

   Monday night, 28 year old Steven Gullberg II and his co-pilot were killed when the cargo plane they were flying crashed along Puerto Rico's north coast.  Authorities say the plane had been en route from the Dominican Republic when it descended rapidly over the mountains.  

   Gullberg was a Hazlewood Central High School graduate.  

   For the past three months Gullberg had worked for Fort Lauderdale based IBC Airways.  Gullberg's family says he had expressed concerns about problems with the maintenance of the company's planes, even questioning their safety.  

Published in Local News

   LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rescuers and investigators were working amid the smoldering wreckage of a private jet and the hangar it hit after landing at a Southern California airport, but they did not expect to find any survivors from the flight from Idaho with an unknown number aboard, officials said.

   "This was an unsurvivable crash," Santa Monica Fire Department Capt. John Nevandro said at a media briefing hours later at Santa Monica Municipal Airport.

   Because the hangar collapsed in flames around it and a crane would be required before the plane could be reached, investigators had been unable to determine how many people were aboard the twin-engine Cessna Citation designed to hold eight passengers and two crew members, officials said.

   It had taken off from Hailey, Idaho and landed in Santa Monica when it went off the right side of the runway at about 6:20 p.m. and struck the hangar, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

   The blaze did minor damage to two other buildings and destroyed the hangar.

   "It was a total loss," Fire Department spokeswoman Bridgett Lewis said.

   News helicopter footage showed all but the tail of the plane trapped under a collapsed section of the small building.

   Investigators could not immediately say whether anyone was inside the hangar.

   A plume of smoke rising above the airport could be seen in the twilight sky over the populous neighborhoods surrounding the airport in the hours after the crash.

   After hearing a loud boom, several neighbors ran toward the airport and saw the fire.

   "It was very, very terrifying, it was sad to see just so much smoke, and the building collapse and the loud boom, you just put it all together and it's scary," witness Alyssa Lang told KABC-TV.

   Witness Charles Thomson told the TV station the plane appeared to make a "perfectly normal landing" before veering off course.

   The jet, a Cessna 525A manufactured in 2003, is registered to a Malibu, Calif. address and its corporate owner, Creative Real Estate Exchange, is based in Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta, according to FAA public records.

   Phone messages left after hours at the real estate company's two offices were not immediately returned.

   The National Transportation Safety Board would take over the investigation as is routine in such crashes.

   Santa Monica Airport, located in the coastal tourist destination known for its trendy bars, restaurants and wooden-pier carnival, is home to many private jets, many of them used by wealthy Southern Californians from the entertainment industry.

   The airport in Hailey serves Idaho's Sun Valley resort area, which is a frequent destination for many celebrities, and the rich and powerful alike.

 
Published in National News

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Police say a small plane has crashed in St. Louis County, killing both people aboard.

St. Louis County Police Captain Randy Vaughn told KMOV that the victims in Saturday morning's crash were an adult male and a female child. Their ages and identities were not released.

KMOV says the Cirrus SR-22 plane was scheduled to leave the Spirit of St. Louis Airport in West St. Louis County at 4:50 a.m. Saturday, and a distress call was received at about 5:10 a.m.

The Monarch Fire Department told KMOX that the plane didn't clear trees after taking off from the airport.

The FAA has been called into investigate.

Joe Duever, who lives near the crash site, told KMOV that it shook his house.

Published in Local News

Emergency personnel evacuated a pilot from a Jerseyville corn field after his plane crashed.

Jersey County Sheriff Department says the man took off in the single-seat experimental plane around 10:30 this morning from the Jerseyville Municipal Airport. Shortly after takeoff the pilot says the plane's engine had problems and before he could return to the airport, the engine died. The plane crashed into a nearby cornfield.

The pilot was hurt in the accident, but authorities say the injuries are not serious.

Published in Local News

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) - Two flight attendants working in the back of an Asiana Airlines Flight 214 were ejected and survived when the plane slammed into a seawall and lost its tail end during a crash landing at San Francisco's airport.  Both women were found on the runway, amid debris.

   In a news conference Tuesday, National Transportation Safety Board officials didn't explain fully why the plane approached the notoriously difficult landing strip too low and slow, likely causing the crash.

 

   NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said the pilot at the controls was only about halfway through his training on the Boeing 777 and was landing at the San Francisco airport for the first time ever.

 

   Hersman also said his co-pilot was also on his first trip as a flight instructor.

   The NTSB hasn't ruled anyone at fault in the crash, but the new details painted a fuller picture of an inexperienced crew that didn't react fast enough to warnings the plane was in trouble.

   Audio recordings show pilots tried to correct the plane's speed and elevation only until seconds before hitting the seawall at the end of the runway, a calamitous impact that sent the fuselage bouncing and skidding across the airfield.

   Here is what is known: Seven seconds before impact, someone in the cockpit asked for more speed after apparently noticing that the jet was flying far slower than its recommended landing speed. A few seconds later, the yoke began to vibrate violently, an automatic warning telling the pilot the plane is losing lift and in imminent danger of an aerodynamic stall. One and a half seconds before impact came a command to abort the landing.

 

   The plane's airspeed has emerged as a key question mark in the investigation. All aircraft have minimum safe flying speeds that must be maintained or pilots risk a stall, which robs a plane of the lift it needs to stay airborne. Below those speeds, planes become unmaneuverable.

 

   Because pilots, not the control tower, are responsible for the approach and landing, former NTSB Chairman James Hall said, the cockpit communications will be key to figuring out what went wrong.

 

   "Good communication with the flight crew as well as the flight attendants is something I'm sure they're going to look at closely with this event," he said Tuesday. "Who was making decisions?"

 

   Hall was on the transportation board when a Korean Airlines Boeing 747 crashed in Guam in 1997, an accident investigators blamed in part on an authoritarian cockpit culture that made newer pilots reluctant to challenge captains.

 

   Since then, the industry has adopted broad training and requirements for crew resource management, a communications system or philosophy airline pilots are taught in part so that pilots who not at the controls feel free to voice any safety concerns or correct any unsafe behavior, even if it means challenging a more senior pilot or saying something that might give offense.

 

   If any of the Asiana pilots "saw something out of parameters for a safe landing," they were obligated to speak up, said Cass Howell, an associate dean at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

 

   "There are dozens and dozens of accidents that were preventable had someone been able to speak up when they should have, but they were reluctant to do so for any number of reasons, including looking stupid or offending the captain," said Howell, a former Marine Corps pilot.

 

   There's been no indication, from verbal calls or mechanical issues, that an emergency was ever declared by pilots.  Most airlines would require all four pilots to be present for the landing, the time when something is most likely to go wrong, experienced pilots said.

 

   "If there are four pilots there, even if you are sitting on a jump seat, that's something you watch, the airspeed and the descent profile," said John Cox, a former US Airways pilot and former Air Line Pilots Association accident investigator.

 

   Investigators want to nail down exactly what all four pilots were doing at all times.

 

   "We're looking at what they were doing, and we want to understand why they were doing it,." Hersman said Monday. "We want to understand what they knew and what they understood."

 

   It's unlikely there was a lot of chatter as the plane came in. The Federal Aviation Administration's "sterile cockpit" rules require pilots to refrain from any unnecessary conversation while the plane is below 10,000 feet so that their attention is focused on taking off or landing. What little conversation takes places is supposed to be necessary to safely completing the task at hand.

 

   Choi Jeong-ho, a senior official for South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, told reporters in a briefing Tuesday in South Korea that investigators from both countries questioned two of the four Asiana pilots, Lee Gang-guk and Lee Jeong-min, on Monday. They planned to question the other two pilots and air controllers Tuesday.

 

   Choi said recorded conversation between the pilots and air controllers at the San Francisco airport would be investigated, too.

 

   In addition, authorities were reviewing the initial rescue efforts after fire officials acknowledged that one of their trucks might have run over one of the two Chinese teenagers killed in the crash. The students, Wang Linjia and Ye Mengyuan, were part of a larger group headed for a Christian summer camp with dozens of classmates.

 

   Asiana President Yoon Young-doo arrived in San Francisco from South Korea on Tuesday morning, fighting his way through a pack of journalists outside customs.

 

   He said he will look at the efforts of airline employees to help injured passengers and their family members, visit with the NTSB and other organizations to apologize for the crash and try to meet injured passengers.

 

   Yoon said he can't meet with the Asiana pilots because no outside contact with them is allowed until the investigation is completed.

 

   More than 180 people aboard the plane went to hospitals with injuries. But remarkably, more than a third didn't even require hospitalization.

 

   The passengers included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 64 Americans, three Canadians, three Indians, one Japanese, one Vietnamese and one person from France.

 

   South Korea officials said 39 people remained hospitalized in seven different hospitals in San Francisco.

 

   The flight originated in Shanghai, China, and stopped over in Seoul, South Korea, before making the nearly 11-hour trip to San Francisco.

Published in National News

   SANDWICH, Ill. (AP) - Authorities say one person is injured after a small home built airplane en route from St. Louis had to make an emergency landing in an unincorporated area outside Chicago.

   The (Aurora) Beacon News reports that Kendall County sheriff's police officers were called to the scene just before 11 a.m. Sunday.

   Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro says the light sport aircraft left a small airport in St. Louis and the pilot reported engine trouble in Illinois. Emergency crews found the plane had made an emergency landing in a field not far from Sandwich.

   Both people aboard were taken to a local hospital. One was treated for minor injuries and the other was evaluated.

   The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

 
Published in Local News

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — South Korea says two veteran pilots were flying the Asiana Airlines jetliner when it crashed while landing at San Francisco's airport, killing two people.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport says four pilots were aboard and rotated in two-person shifts during the flight from Asia.

Officials say more than 300 passengers and crew members were aboard when it slammed into the runway and caught fire. The two dead were found outside the wreckage. Another 182 people were taken to hospitals, many with minor injuries.

San Francisco's fire chief says authorities have accounted for all passengers and crew members who were aboard the jetliner.

The flight originated in Shanghai, China with a stopover in Seoul.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are on the scene.

Published in National News

   A pilot and passenger are both being treated for injuries after a small plane crashed in Jefferson County Monday evening.  It happened about 9 p.m, about two miles south of Festus City Airport.  

   Sheriff's deputies found the plane in a farm field near the 2600 block of Plattin Road.  

   Both men were conscious and able to speak to emergency crews when they were airlifted to Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur.  The extent of their injuries is not known.  

   KSDK-TV reports that the pilot is identified as 65 year old Jim Smith.  His 40 year old son, Christopher Smith was also on board when plane went down.  

   It's not clear what caused the crash.

 
Published in Local News
Thursday, 21 February 2013 00:35

5 dead after small jet crashes in eastern GA

THOMSON, Ga. (AP) — Five people were killed and two injured when a small jet crashed off the end of a runway in eastern Georgia, an official confirmed early Thursday.

Thomson-McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall said the jet crashed after 8 p.m. Wednesday. He said the two survivors were taken to area hospitals but did not have information on their conditions. He said the identities of those killed were being withheld pending notification of family members.

The Hawker Beechcraft 390/Premier I en route from Nashville, Tenn., crashed around 8:30 p.m. at the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport, about 30 miles west of Augusta, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said in an email.

Seven people were aboard, she told The Associated Press in the email. She added that she had no immediate details about a possible cause.

The Augusta Chronicle (http://bit.ly/WbvMGa) cited Assistant County Fire Chief Stephen Sewell as saying there were at least two survivors identified as a pilot and a passenger. But he provided no additional information about those aboard in that account.

The newspaper said a brush fire flared near the crash scene, quoting witnesses who reported local power outages that prompted a utility to send workers to the site. A photograph posted on the newspaper's online site showed ambulances with lights flashing.

The plane was on a flight from John Tune Airport in Nashville, Tenn., to the Thomson-McDuffie airport, Bergen said in her email, adding the aircraft is registered to a company based in Wilmington, Del.
Published in National News

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