Pilots Union Criticizes Asiana Crash Investigation

NEW YORK (Reuters) -

The world’s largest pilots union rebuked the federal agency handling the investigation of Saturday’s passenger jet crash in San Francisco, and said it had released too much information too quickly, which could lead to wrong conclusions and compromise safety.

Releasing data from the flight’s black boxes without full investigative information for context “has fueled rampant speculation” about the cause of the crash, the Air Line Pilots Association International said in a statement on Tuesday.

The criticism came after the National Transportation Safety Board on Monday gave a detailed account of the flight’s final minutes in a regular daily update on the crash.

The NTSB is the lead investigator of Asiana Airlines flight 214, a Boeing 777 that broke apart and burned after crash-landing short of the runway.

ALPA had criticized the NTSB on Monday for releasing too much information. But on Tuesday, it said the agency had not provided enough context, and urged the agency to “elaborate on factual material that has been excluded from public releases but must be considered in determining not only what happened, but why.”

Answering ALPA’s criticism, NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said the agency routinely provided factual updates during investigations.

“For the public to have confidence in the investigative process, transparency and accuracy are critical,” Nantel said.

ALPA, the Washington, D.C.-based union that represents more than 50,000 pilots in the United States and Canada, said the NTSB statements gave the impression that the agency had “already determined probable cause.”