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From someone who trained Korean Pilots at Asiana

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posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 01:28 AM
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An email from Tom:
After I retired from UAL as a Standards Captain on the –400, I got a job as a simulator instructor working for Alteon (a Boeing subsidiary) at Asiana. When I first got there, I was shocked and surprised by the lack of basic piloting skills shown by most of the pilots. It is not a normal situation with normal progression from new hire, right seat to left seat taking a decade or two. One big difference is that ex-Military pilots are given super-seniority and progress to the left seat much faster. Compared to the US, they also upgrade fairly rapidly because of the phenomenal growth by all Asian air carriers. By the way, after about six months at Asiana, I was moved over to KAL and found them to be identical. The only difference was the color of the uniforms and airplanes. I worked in Korea for 5 long years and although I found most of the people to be very pleasant, it’s a minefield of a work environment ... for them and for us expats.

One of the first things I learned was that the pilots kept a web-site and reported on every training session. I don’t think this was officially sanctioned by the company, but after one or two simulator periods, a database was building on me (and everyone else) that told them exactly how I ran the sessions, what to expect on checks, and what to look out for. For example; I used to open an aft cargo door at 100 knots to get them to initiate an RTO and I would brief them on it during the briefing. This was on the B-737 NG and many of the captains were coming off the 777 or B744 and they were used to the Master Caution System being inhibited at 80 kts. Well, for the first few days after I started that, EVERYONE rejected the takeoff. Then, all of a sudden they all “got it” and continued the takeoff (in accordance with their manuals). The word had gotten out. I figured it was an overall PLUS for the training program.

We expat instructors were forced upon them after the amount of fatal accidents (most of them totally avoidable) over a decade began to be noticed by the outside world. They were basically given an ultimatum by the FAA, Transport Canada, and the EU to totally rebuild and rethink their training program or face being banned from the skies all over the world. They hired Boeing and Airbus to staff the training centers. KAL has one center and Asiana has another. When I was there (2003-2008) we had about 60 expats conducting training KAL and about 40 at Asiana. Most instructors were from the USA, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand with a few stuffed in from Europe and Asia. Boeing also operated training centers in Singapore and China so they did hire some instructors from there.

This solution has only been partially successful but still faces ingrained resistance from the Koreans. I lost track of the number of highly qualified instructors I worked with who were fired because they tried to enforce “normal” standards of performance. By normal standards, I would include being able to master basic tasks like successfully shoot a visual approach with 10 kt crosswind and the weather CAVOK. I am not kidding when I tell you that requiring them to shoot a visual approach struck fear in their hearts ... with good reason. Like this Asiana crew, it didn’t’ compute that you needed to be a 1000’ AGL at 3 miles and your sink rate should be 600-800 Ft/Min. But, after 5 years, they finally nailed me. I still had to sign my name to their training and sometimes if I just couldn’t pass someone on a check, I had no choice but to fail them. I usually busted about 3-5 crews a year and the resistance against me built. I finally failed an extremely incompetent crew and it turned out he was a high-ranking captain who was the Chief Line Check pilot on the fleet I was teaching on. I found out on my next monthly trip home that KAL was not going to renew my Visa. The crew I failed was given another check and continued a fly while talking about how unfair Captain Brown was.

Any of you Boeing glass-cockpit guys will know what I mean when I describe these events. I gave them a VOR approach with a 15 mile arc from the IAF. By the way, KAL dictated the profiles for all sessions and we just administered them. He requested two turns in holding at the IAF to get set up for the approach. When he finally got his nerve up, he requested “Radar Vectors” to final. He could have just said he was ready for the approach and I would have cleared him to the IAF and then “Cleared for the approach” and he could have selected “Exit Hold” and been on his way. He was already in LNAV/VNAV PATH. So, I gave him vectors to final with a 30 degree intercept. Of course, he failed to “Extend the FAF” and he couldn’t understand why it would not intercept the LNAV magenta line when he punched LNAV and VNAV. He made three approaches and missed approaches before he figured out that his active waypoint was “Hold at XYZ.” Every time he punched LNAV, it would try to go back to the IAF ... just like it was supposed to do. Since it was a check, I was not allowed (by their own rules) to offer him any help. That was just one of about half dozen major errors I documented in his UNSAT paperwork. He also failed to put in ANY aileron on takeoff with a 30-knot direct crosswind (again, the weather was dictated by KAL).


This Asiana SFO accident makes me sick and while I am surprised there are not more, I expect that there will be many more of the same type accidents in the future unless some drastic steps are taken. They are already required to hire a certain percentage of expats to try to ingrain more flying expertise in them, but more likely, they will eventually be fired too. One of the best trainees I ever had was a Korean/American (he grew up and went to school in the USA) who flew C-141’s in the USAF. When he got out, he moved back to Korea and got hired by KAL. I met him when I gave him some training and a check on the B-737 and of course, he breezed through the training. I give him annual PCs for a few years and he was always a good pilot. Then, he got involved with trying to start a pilots union and when they tried to enforce some sort of duty rigs on international flights, he was fired after being arrested and JAILED!

The Koreans are very, very bright and smart so I was puzzled by their inability to fly an airplane well. They would show up on Day 1 of training (an hour before the scheduled briefing time, in a 3-piece suit, and shined shoes) with the entire contents of the FCOM and Flight Manual totally memorized. But, putting that information to actual use was many times impossible. Crosswind landings are also an unsolvable puzzle for most of them. I never did figure it out completely, but I think I did uncover a few clues. Here is my best guess. First off, their educational system emphasizes ROTE memorization from the first day of school as little kids. As you know, that is the lowest form of learning and they act like robots. They are also taught to NEVER challenge authority and in spite of the flight training heavily emphasizing CRM/CLR, it still exists either on the surface or very subtly. You just can’t change 3000 years of culture.

The other thing that I think plays an important role is the fact that there is virtually NO civil aircraft flying in Korea. It’s actually illegal to own a Cessna-152 and just go learn to fly. Ultra-lights and Powered Hang Gliders are Ok. I guess they don’t trust the people to not start WW III by flying 35 miles north of Inchon




posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 01:38 AM
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For those of you who have flown I thought the email might shed some light on the recent crash at SFO. The things Tom went through are not really that unusual and it is just not an Asian thing either. Many of the new aircraft are so automated that the pilot becomes a systems monitor kinda guy. They can push buttons with the best of them but actually flying an aircraft is becoming more and more problematic. One of the reasons I liked the 727 we actually hand flew the aircraft when on approach and take-off..Even when I went to the glass cockpit aircraft I continued to hand fly to at least 18,000 and usually hand flew my approaches unless it was CAT ll or lll simply because I could do it smoother than any autopilot. Many of my generation did the same. Also you can take a guy in a simulator and give him an engine failure and he will perform satisfactorily...Fly with him for real and some are still cool and perform but others should have chosen another field of work; because this is real...
edit on 11-7-2013 by 727Sky because: ...

edit on 11-7-2013 by 727Sky because: ....



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 01:56 AM
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They were flying the plane before. Why for one crash landing such a fuss? Does not matter how trained pilots are, one day they can do simple mistake which can lead to tragedies.



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 01:59 AM
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reply to post by 727Sky
 


A couple levels out of my pay grade but captivating none the less. The Koreans I have meet seem kinda arrogant I wonder if that plays into it?



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 02:00 AM
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Originally posted by hdash
They were flying the plane before. Why for one crash landing such a fuss? Does not matter how trained pilots are, one day they can do simple mistake which can lead to tragedies.





Pilot error is just that. It is not a spin of the slot machine. It is obvious by your comments that you have no idea what you are talking about. Does it matter how much training your surgeon has?
edit on 11-7-2013 by SubTruth because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 02:15 AM
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Originally posted by hdash
They were flying the plane before. Why for one crash landing such a fuss? Does not matter how trained pilots are, one day they can do simple mistake which can lead to tragedies.


Yes but three suppossedly qualified pilots to include an instructor pilot were on the fight deck. Speed was set for the auto throttles and yet was not in-gauged to maintain speed. Three guys missed the whole speed thing...AIR PLANE they call it that because no air over the wing and it becomes a law dart. An old fighter pilot saying is, "speed is life". That is basic airmanship which someone with less than 3 hours learns. Sad situation especially for those who died.

A KAL 747 was on approach to Guam several years ago...He hit the dirt and killed everyone; Automation? or just piss poor piloting? I flew out of Guam on more than one occasion and flew the very same approach many times. It was an easy approach but did have a step down fix which gave you an altitude to be at so many miles from the runway. The KAL 747 started the approach and blew through the altitude restriction and hit the dirt...Most accidents are avoidable and flying is very safe way of getting someplace or I would not be alive today. Being qualified means exactly that...Able to meet certain goals with regards to flying the aircraft. ....
edit on 11-7-2013 by 727Sky because: .....



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 02:32 AM
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Originally posted by SubTruth
reply to post by 727Sky
 


A couple levels out of my pay grade but captivating none the less. The Koreans I have meet seem kinda arrogant I wonder if that plays into it?


Why take it there?



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 04:28 AM
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Originally posted by SubTruth

Originally posted by hdash
They were flying the plane before. Why for one crash landing such a fuss? Does not matter how trained pilots are, one day they can do simple mistake which can lead to tragedies.





Pilot error is just that. It is not a spin of the slot machine. It is obvious by your comments that you have no idea what you are talking about. Does it matter how much training your surgeon has?
edit on 11-7-2013 by SubTruth because: (no reason given)


Yes. Especially when they kill someone. Or do you think surgeons should be untrained?



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 04:33 AM
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Originally posted by astronomine

Originally posted by SubTruth
reply to post by 727Sky
 


A couple levels out of my pay grade but captivating none the less. The Koreans I have meet seem kinda arrogant I wonder if that plays into it?


Why take it there?


It's actually true. My fiance works with Koreans and they all said it was the plane because their pilots are the best in the world and could never make an error.



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 04:46 AM
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As I posted in the 777 thread....at Payne Field from 04 till 06, the pilots taking the 777's home could not get off the runway at the speed or thrust the Boeing pilots did. I was at the 3/4 down the runway point,and the first flight of the 777's would get off the runway way before they got to me, so all I could see was the bottom of the wings as it went by a thousand feet up.
The pilots taking them home would roll by me too slowly, as if they were afraid to push the throttles. Scary one time, as the runway end drops 15 feet at the end where the boulevard goes through, KLM used up all the runway. hello

edit on 11-7-2013 by GBP/JPY because: Yahuweh...the coolest of names, I swear



ETA....so someone knows about this....the people selling the planes saw it as they left the lot!!! then this....the idiots felt the need do a wing dip at 300 feet AGL....stupid
edit on 11-7-2013 by GBP/JPY because: Yahuweh...the coolest of names, I swear



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 10:51 AM
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reply to post by OccamsRazor04
 




My fiance works with Koreans and they all said it was the plane because their pilots are the best in the world and could never make an error.

Perhaps if they built their own planes they would figure out where the real blame lies.



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 10:58 AM
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Originally posted by 727Sky
Yes but three suppossedly qualified pilots to include an instructor pilot were on the fight deck. Speed was set for the auto throttles and yet was not in-gauged to maintain speed. Three guys missed the whole speed thing...AIR PLANE they call it that because no air over the wing and it becomes a law dart. An old fighter pilot saying is, "speed is life". That is basic airmanship which someone with less than 3 hours learns. Sad situation especially for those who died.


There were two qualified pilots in the cockpit, and the instructor was new. The autothrottle was engaged, but the mode that it was in it didn't hold the speed the way they thought it did. They also got into a situation where they were trying to correct a vertical, and lateral differential to the runway. When you're trying to correct in more than one direction, you tend to get distracted, and that distraction at low altitude can lead to mistakes.

When they decided to abort, one of the pilots said the throttles had already been pushed forward, and it took a second or two to realize they hadn't been.



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 10:59 AM
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Originally posted by samkent
Perhaps if they built their own planes they would figure out where the real blame lies.


They do build their own, as well as license building American aircraft.



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 06:32 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 





but the mode that it was in it didn't hold the speed the way they thought it did.


Exactly.. I have seen all kinds of auto throttle screw-ups when someone is first learning modes and their use. Even on the MD-80 during take-off in very gusty conditions the auto throttles clamped before take-off power was achieved (think power was clamped at around 80%) the brain dead pilot instead of pushing the throttles up for take-off power started pushing buttons...I waited until it became a safety issue and pushed them up myself with a comment, "See this still works". To this day I do believe he would have ran off the end of the runway still pushing buttons...several months later he busted a check ride then the company sent him completely back through training and still he busted the ride or the oral; I forget. Either way he was let go, fired, dismissed, terminated. He was actually a good stick and rudder guy but if it was not stick and rudder flying he was spring loaded to "OVERLOAD" and serious "why did it do that" situations.



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 07:59 PM
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According to something I recall watching on Mayday, the big issue for Korean pilots is a cultural one. Traditionally, several of the Asian countries, specifically Japan and Korea, place a great emphasis on listening to one's elders and superiors. As a result, a junior officer will sometimes not speak up with vital information.

The specific incident I'm talking about is detailed here, but the short version is that the crash was because of a malfunction in the pilot's artificial horizon system. The copilot's was working properly, but he didn't speak up because of the aforementioned cultural issues.



posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 11:57 PM
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So far the evidence is pointing to a series of small errors that no one caught (as most crashes are), nothing really cultural, or anything else about it.

It started with having two pilots who probably weren't entirely comfortable in their new roles. You have a 10,000 hour pilot, who is suddenly a student again. Those two don't really go well together, because by now he's set in his ways, and has his habits, and now he has someone telling him what he's doing wrong again.

Add in an instructor who is new to his role too. He probably hasn't found his style yet (it always takes time to figure out what works and what doesn't, and what fits you). So he's either trying too hard, or not hard enough, either way he can come across as alienating the other pilot.

Now add a third (777 experienced) pilot, in a cockpit meant for two, looking over their shoulder, and there's that much more pressure on them to get it right.

They game in high (4,000 feet), so they started a 1500 fpm descent, and at some point failed to make an autopilot mode change, so the autothrottles didn't maintain 137 knots as programmed, and assumed that the throttles were holding their speed for them.

Passing through 500 feet, one of the pilots saw a flash of light that temporarily blinded him. The comment was made about speed, and pushing the throttles up, but someone said that they had already been pushed forward.

Nothing cultural about it, crew coordination failure has killed a lot of people through the years, the world over, it doesn't matter what culture you're from.



posted on Jul, 12 2013 @ 10:57 AM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 





Nothing cultural about it, crew coordination failure has killed a lot of people through the years, the world over, it doesn't matter what culture you're from.

I wonder if the new(ish) pilot were the only one in the cockpit if the result would be different.
Would he have flown the electronics into the ground or looked out the window?



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