The Air Line Pilots Association, International, on July 18 issued the following statement on the KTVU incident.
The rush to be first by a major local television news station and the absence of proper checks and balances at a government agency in charge of airline accident investigations led to the erroneous and offensive reporting of names that were supposedly those of the pilots of Asiana Flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 7.
In the case of KTVU in Oakland, the reporting of pilots’ names – names that were so obviously fictional that a simple phonics test would reveal their sophomoric nature – provides another example of the media choosing expediency over accuracy, with predictably bad results.
For the NTSB, placing an “intern” in a position where he or she was allowed to answer media inquiries on a high-profile matter, such as the investigation of Asiana Flight 214, is unconscionable. For a leading news organization such as KTVU to have put the bogus, some might even say racist, names on the air in an attempt for an “exclusive story” is equally troubling.
While there is plenty of blame to go around on this issue, the core problem is one of poor protection of the integrity of an ongoing investigation. The missteps by both the media and the NTSB have turned the investigation of Asiana Flight 214 into a folly in the eyes of many.
Pilots abide by certain trained principles when faced with an emergency or critical situation. The first of those basic tenets is to Fly the Airplane; to not lose sight of our primary responsibility simply because there has been a change in the condition of the aircraft or the weather. Both the NTSB and the media in this case failed in executing their primary responsibilities.
I call on the NTSB and all media outlets to allow the integrity of this and all accident investigations to be maintained, and for all parties take all measures possible to ensure a competent level of accuracy and propriety in matters pertaining to any airline incident that requires a thorough investigation.
Capt. Jay Heppner, Chairman, United Master Executive Council, ALPA