Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Skilled pilot is best safety feature

The crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 on Saturday at San Francisco International Airport could have been much worse. Two Chinese teens lost their lives when an underpowered Boeing 777 attempting to land after a flight from South Korea failed to clear a breakwall short of the runaway, crash-landed and caught fire. The plane was quickly evacuated, and only 50 of the 307 passengers and crew sustained serious injuries. While the investigation is continuing, it appears the focus of any reforms should be on making sure pilots have the proper training and experience on the specific planes they are flying.

With more than 5 million flights logged, the Boeing 777 is the workhorse of commercial aviation, with nearly 1,500 of the aircraft's various models produced since 1993. The San Francisco accident was the first involving fatalities since the aircraft went into service. While some smaller carriers have experienced fatal crashes, Saturday's incident was the worst accident involving a large airliner in the United States since 2001, when an American Airlines Airbus A300-600 crashed shortly after takeoff over Queens, New York, killing all 251 passengers and crew and five people on the ground.

Because of improvements in aircraft design — such as better seat construction, flame-retardant interior cabin material, enhanced safety doors and exit chutes — passengers and crews have a much better chance of surviving even a significant crash, as Saturday's accident demonstrated. State-of-the-art avionics means that sophisticated aircraft such as the Boeing 777 are literally able to fly themselves on autopilot. But those technological advances have come at a price.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigating Flight 214 is taking a closer look at the flight crew's handling of the aircraft's final moments. At the San Francisco airport, arriving flights would normally lock onto a land-based instrument system that guides the plane to touchdown. But on Saturday the system had been shut down to accommodate a construction project, requiring Flight 214's captain in command, who only had 43 hours of experience flying the 777, to fly the aircraft. The result was catastrophic. The dirty little secret in much of commercial aviation is how little pilots actually engage in hands-on control of the aircraft, essentially becoming glorified passengers. Investigators should determine why the flight crew allowed the plane to drop below the minimum landing speed of about 150 mph and didn't notice the impending danger until it was too late.

The fate of Flight 214 is a cautionary reminder that for all of aviation's technological advances, having engaged and properly trained pilots fully in command still remains the most important onboard safety requirement.

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Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

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Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

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Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

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Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

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Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

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Published: 12/06/17
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Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
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