REFILE-Asiana crash hearing to focus on pilots -U.S. safety board ex-chair

Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:16am EDT

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WASHINGTON, June 24 (Reuters) - A former U.S. transportation safety regulator said pilot error will likely be the focus of a hearing on Tuesday on the cause of an Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport last July in which three passengers died.

"I think things that they're looking at very closely have to do with the performance of the pilots - their training, their preparation," Deborah Hersman, former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, said on the CBS "This Morning" television program.

The board will examine causes of the July 6, 2013 crash landing of the Boeing 777, which also injured more than 180 passengers. It was the first fatal commercial airplane crash in the United States since February 2009.

Asiana said in a report to the safety board that the crash likely was due to the pilots flying dangerously slow and an inadequate warning system that should have alerted them, according to documents released in March.

Hersman, who was board chairman until March, told CBS the board will likely focus on how well the pilots were trained.

"Were they familiar with the system and the different modes that they operated in? Was there confusion? Did they know what was happening and were they prepared for the landing that happened in San Francisco on a clear day?" she said.

She also said the board believed that two of the passengers who died in the crash were not wearing seat belts.

The third passenger who died, Chinese teenager Ye Mengyuan, 16, was covered in fire-fighting foam when she was run over by emergency vehicles at the crash sight.

Hersman said the board will look at what went wrong in the emergency response to make sure it doesn't happen again. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)