Commercial Crews At Their Best ... And Worst

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The pilots of a South Korean Airbus 321 who managed to land safely last Friday after the jet was badly damaged by two-inch hailstones were honored with commendations for saving the lives of their 200 passengers, including 177 children on a school tour. The nosecone containing the jet's radar was blown off, the autopilot malfunctioned, and the cockpit windscreen became opaque with cracks and impact marks. Although the safety glass remained intact, the pilots were unable to see forward during the landing. The airspeed indicator also was damaged, so the Asiana Airlines crew got airspeed readouts from radar controllers. Meanwhile, over Europe, the crew of a Boeing 777 that flew silently through Eastern European airspace has been accused of napping in the cockpit. Two fighters were called in to escort the Vietnam Airlines jet after it crossed into Czech airspace and the crew failed to respond to controllers. The crew has said they were on the wrong frequency by mistake. Airline officials deny rumors that both pilots were sleeping for over an hour, saying that procedures call for cabin crew to check the cockpit every 15 minutes. However, both pilots must undergo additional (remedial?) training before they can fly again, the airline said. The incident occurred in April.