Aviation safety, USC crash lab

Aviation safety, USC crash lab

POSTED: Saturday, July 13, 2013 - 11:09am

UPDATED: Saturday, July 13, 2013 - 11:10am

Investigators are trying to figure out what led to the deadly Asiana Airlines plane crash in San Francisco last weekend.

Casey Wian spoke to experts about how investigators will use the evidence collected at the wreck site to piece together what happened.

Several Korean aviation accident Investigators are now looking into the Asiana crash, got their training here according to USC's Aviation Safety Program, inside an old Sears warehouse where the twisted wreckage of plane crashes serves as a USC classroom for aviation accident investigators

"What you see here is a safety system that has failed."

Instructors took me through part of the training.

"What strikes you with this aircraft?"

(Reporter): "Well, what strikes me is there was a big fire here and it doesn't look like anyone could have survived it."

"You look over there and what do you see?"

(Reporter): "Well, I see twisted metal. It looks like some kind of significant trauma happened to that wing, crashed into something, hit something, I don't know, a pole?"

"We teach the discipline of accident investigation, namely to observe the fact, to document the fact and then let the facts take you by the hand and lead you to the next fact, and the discipline not to conclude, not to summarize and not to think too far ahead, but to stick to the facts."

(Reporter): "And so how wrong am I?"

"You're right."

But minutes later, I jump to a faulty conclusion looking at different wreckage.

"It almost looks like a crumpled beer can. And what we see here is the power of a thunderstorm."

(Reporter): "So lightning hit this aircraft?"

"There's no evidence of lightning strike. This is simply evidence of an aircraft being torn apart by the severe turbulence that is contained in a thunderstorm."

While investigators in San Francisco still are gathering information, there are clues.

"But we're pretty sure we're going to look at how the airspeed decayed to a point where three fully qualified people on the flight deck didn't see it, or saw it and didn't warn the captain. In today's world, the way these aircraft are made, the weak link as always going to be human factors."

One question these instructors are beginning to ask is: Have pilots become too reliant on automation?

The NTSB says it's looking into the role an automated throttle may have played in the Asiana crash.

"If we can teach anything, it's never one thing. It's always a chain of interrelated causes. The reason that it's safe is this. The lessons we have learned through accident investigation and investigating the procedures, they're the ones that have changed this and made it such a safe form of transportation."

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