ALPA Calls for Thorough Investigation of Asiana Flight 214 Accident; Warns Against Making Conclusions Based on Partial Data

WASHINGTON — The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, released the following statement regarding the crash landing of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco on Saturday, July 6, 2013.

First and foremost, our thoughts are with those who were involved in the accident this past Saturday. From the crew to the passengers to the families and first responders, we hope they can gain some comfort during this difficult time.

ALPA is stunned by the amount of detailed operational data from on-board recorders released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) this soon into the investigation. The amount of data released publicly during the field portion of the accident investigation is unprecedented.

It is imperative that safety investigators refrain from prematurely releasing the information from on-board recording devices. We have seen in the past that publicizing this data before all of it can be collected and analyzed leads to erroneous conclusions that can actually interfere with the investigative process.

The release of individual data points from the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder—without the context of the entire body of factual investigative data—represents a potential detriment to flight safety. It encourages wild speculation, as we have already seen in the media, about causes of the accident before all the facts are known, before investigators have the ability to determine why the events occurred, and in this case before the flight crew had even been interviewed.

This premature release of partial data is often taken out of context and creates the impression that the NTSB has already determined probable cause even before the investigation has started. Since each factor of flight, landing, airport environment, and crew is part of safe air travel, we need to ensure that reckless release of information is not sensationalized by the media for the purpose of a few headlines.

ALPA has long supported an objective accident investigation process that is based on the fundamental principle of obtaining all the facts to perform accurate analysis in the context of all factors that may have led to an accident. We stand ready to assist the NTSB or any state investigative agency in obtaining those facts and ensuring that an appropriate operational context is maintained.

ALPA urges the NTSB to make sure that the objective investigative process continues by gathering all the facts and relevant information before leading the public to believe that a cause has been determined.

 

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