February 10, 2014 / 7:53 AM / 5 years ago

Asiana Airlines seeks cockpit culture changer after U.S. crash

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen in this aerial image after it crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport in California on July 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jed Jacobsohn

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s Asiana Airlines Inc (020560.KS) is changing its pilot training program and encouraging its crew to talk more in a bid to change a corporate culture that U.S. investigators said may have been a factor in a crash last year.

A hearing into the July 6 crash that killed three people and injured more than 180 people in San Francisco revealed that one of the pilots said he did not feel he had the authority to abort a low-speed landing as people at a “higher level” had to make that decision.

“It’s a reality that within our country there is a leaning toward a patriarchal culture and many pilots work and fly within the strict military order,” Chief Executive Kim Soo-cheon told reporters on Monday.

The airline has since September strengthened pilot training, set up out-of-office gatherings and recommended all members of the flight crew address each other with honorifics while working, regardless of rank, Kim said.

Yamamura Akiyoshi, senior executive vice president in charge of safety since December, added that Asiana was also seeking to encourage staff to report problems without fearing possible penalties.

Another factor highlighted in the December hearing was pilots’ reliance on the autopilot to maintain airspeed. One of the pilots also said he was stressed about manually flying the plane.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash of the Boeing 777 aircraft is still ongoing and both Kim and Yamamura declined to give details about the probe.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Miral Fahmy

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