Asiana crash: S. Koreans dismiss cockpit culture as cause of crash

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean aviation officials on Friday dismissed any suggestion that a deferential culture in which junior pilots were afraid to challenge their seniors played a part in the crash of an Asiana jet in San Francisco.

Two people died and more than 180 were injured when a Boeing 777 crashed last Saturday after clipping a seawall short of the runway, skidding out of control, shredding the tail of the plane and catching fire.

An investigation by the US National Transportation Safety Board is focusing much of its attention on the Lee Gang Kuk, who was landing the 777 for his first time, and his trainer Lee Jeong Min.

"We're certainly interested to see if there are issues where there are challenges to crew communication," Deborah Hersman said, head of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which is investigated the crash said on Wednesday.

Aviation industry have been training pilots in order "to make sure that a junior pilot feels comfortable challenging a senior pilot and to make sure the senior pilot welcomes feedback in a cockpit environment from all members of the crew and considers it", she said.

But Chang Man Heui, director of flight standards at the South Korean transportation ministry said it was "outrageous to suggest that traditional Korean Confucianist culture might have contributed to the accident".

"It's true that authoritarianism existed in the cockpit until the late 1990s (of South Korean flights) but we have now a completely different culture," he said, dismissing such a suggestion as "anachronistic".