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Pilots on Asiana’s crashed plane return to work as ground staff

  • ASSOCIATED PRESSFILE - In this Saturday, July 6, 2013 aerial photo, the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 lies on the ground after it crashed at the San Francisco International Airport, in San Francisco. In the first investigation of its kind, federal transportation officials are reviewing whether Asiana Airlines failed to meet legal obligations to help the families of passengers after one of its planes crashed at San Francisco International Airport, killing three people. Under U.S. law, Asiana was required to provide a range of services to family members of the 291 passengers, from the prompt posting of a toll-free number to gather and distribute information, to providing transportation and lodging so family members can comfort injured loved ones. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    FILE - In this Saturday, July 6, 2013 aerial photo, the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 lies on the ground after it crashed at the San Francisco International Airport, in San Francisco. In the first investigation of its kind, federal transportation officials are reviewing whether Asiana Airlines failed to meet legal obligations to help the families of passengers after one of its planes crashed at San Francisco International Airport, killing three people. Under U.S. law, Asiana was required to provide a range of services to family members of the 291 passengers, from the prompt posting of a toll-free number to gather and distribute information, to providing transportation and lodging so family members can comfort injured loved ones. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Two pilots on the Asiana Airlines Inc. plane that crash-landed at a San Francisco airport in July will return to work as ground staff, the company said.

The pilots, Lee Kang Kuk and Lee Jung Min, will return to work as early as this week, Lee Hyo Min, a spokeswoman for the Seoul-based airline, said today. Their specific roles haven’t been determined, she said.

Manual flying skills and cockpit teamwork are part of the U.S. probe into the crash of Asiana Flight 214, which struck a seawall short of the San Francisco airport on July 6, killing three people. Lee Kang Kuk was in control of the Boeing Co. 777 plane and was being trained by Lee Jung Min on the flight. More than 300 people survived the crash, the first fatal airline accident in the U.S. since 2009.

Asiana rose 0.2 percent to 5,050 won as of 11:20 a.m. in Seoul trading. The stock has fallen 18 percent this year, compared with a 0.2 percent climb in South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index.

Lee Kang Kuk, 46, logged 9,793 flight hours before the accident. Only 43 were on the 777, after he moved up from the narrow-body Boeing 737, and he was making his first trip to San Francisco on the wide-body aircraft.

Lee Jung Min, 49, a Korea Aerospace University graduate who joined Asiana in 1996, had flown 12,387 hours, including 3,220 on the 777.

Two other pilots on Flight 214 returned to flying last month, spokeswoman Lee said.

SAFETY STANDARDS

Asiana, South Korea’s second-biggest airline, plans to expand instruction for air crew and begin an outside review of safety standards, it said last month. Pilots will get more hours in flight simulators to prepare for approaches to airports without landing guidance systems.

The carrier said it will also hire another company to evaluate its procedures, add safety specialists and boost maintenance.

Lee Kang Kuk was using a visual approach the day of the accident because the instrument landing system’s glide slope, which helps line up the correct path to the runway, was closed for construction. Former Asiana pilots and trainers have said in interviews that the company’s pilots were well trained on automatic systems, yet rarely flew manually.

It was Asiana’s first fatal accident since a Boeing 747 cargo plane went down at sea in the southern part of South Korea in July 2011.

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