On Sunday 28 July 2013, the FAA issued a recommendation that non-US airlines landing at San Francisco International airport (SFO) use their GPS systems to help guide them during landings operated under visual flight conditions at the airport's longest runways, including runway 28L, which was the one being used by the Asiana 777 that crashed at SFO on 6 July 2013 . This implies that non-US pilots may not have the basic piloting skills needed to consistently land aircraft at SFO under visual flight rules.
Dr. Todd Curtis on new FAA recommendations
An FAA representative stated that the recommendation was a response to concerns that some non-US airline pilots may not have sufficient experience or expertise to land an airliner using visual approach procedures, which don't rely primarily on electronic landing aids.
Neither the FAA or the NTSB has stated that the visual approach procedures were a factor in the crash of Asiana flight 214 on July 6th. However, since that crash, the FAA has revealed that an unspecified number of flights involving Asiana, EVA Air, and other non-US carriers have had more aborted landing attempts than usual at SFO.
Since last week, the FAA has instituted a different landing protocol for visual approaches on runway 28L, the intended landing runway for Asiana flight 214, and the parallel runway 28R. That protocol will have air traffic controllers at SFO requesting that non-US airliners use a GPS-based navigation system to assist those flight crews in landing on either of those runways.
In a visual approach, pilots typically don't rely on a variety of electronic aids like an instrument landing system to align the aircraft with the runway and to keep to the aircraft on the proper glide slope. On runway 28L, the glide slope system was not operable on the day of the accident, and is scheduled to be out of commission until 22 August 2013. During a visual approach, pilots may use the glide slope system, as well as other systems like the precision approach path indicator (PAPI) system, which was used by the crew on Asiana fight 214.
While the FAA did not state when the recommendation for non-US airlines would be lifted, it would likely not be necessary once the glide slope system is back in operation.
- AirSafeNews.com 15 July 2013: Questions about the crash of Asiana flight 214
- AirSafeNews.com 13 July 2013 article summarizing the two prior NTSB press conferences
- AirSafeNews.com 10 July 2013 article on the role of the autothrottle
- AirSafeNews.com 8 July 2013 article on early findings of the crash investigation
- Other Asiana plane crashes
- Other 777 plane crashes
- Accident details from Aviation Safety Network
- Wikipedia page on this accident