Former NTSB head shares insights ahead of Asiana crash anniversary

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Next week, The National Transportation Safety Board will issue its official findings into what caused the crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport last year. Former NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman shared some of her insights on the investigation with ABC7 News.

It was the unthinkable -- South Korean airliner Asiana Flight 214 hit the seawall while coming in for a landing at SFO.

There were over 300 people on board. More than 180 were injured and three teenagers from China were killed.

Deborah Hersman, then head of the NTSB became the public face of the investigation.

She recently left the NTSB after 10 years at the helm, but she told ABC7 News what to expect out of next week's NTSB meeting.

"They can issue recommendations to aircraft manufacturers about info that might be in manuals for training the pilots," Hersman explained. "They can issue recommendations specifically to the airline. They can make recommendations to training centers, because a lot of training is contracted out to third parties. And finally, they can make recommendations to the regulator."

But, she explained, they don't like to assign blame.

"They don't like to characterize it as assigning blame because generally you can't blame an accident one a single factor," Hersman said. "It's got to be a system of safety to help protect not just the pilots but also the passengers from events like this from occurring."

A lot has happened since the crash. In December, the NTSB held hearings where Asiana blamed Boeing for design flaws with its controls, while Boeing blamed the pilots for lack of training, incorrect settings and not aborting the landing. In February, the Department of Transportation fined Asiana a half of million dollars for lack of responsiveness and communication with families following the crash. And just this month, the South Korean government suspended Asiana flights to Saipan for one week when its pilots took off despite discovering an engine problem.

"It is actually good news in a certain area and it demonstrates there is oversight by the regulator and the regulator is willing to step in and take action when they identify a deficiency," Hersman said.

Hersman is still trying to save lives; she's now the head of the National Safety Council. The non-profit seeks to prevent unintentional deaths, be they from distracted driving, drug-overdose or workplace dangers.

The next NTSB meeting to determine the cause of the Asiana crash will take place next Tuesday morning in Washington D.C. ABC7 News will be there.
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