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Aviation Expert Tells KCAL9 ‘Pilot Error’ Might Be Cause Of Deadly Plane Crash

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CAMARILLO (CBSLA.com) — Investigators were immediately dispatched to San Francisco to try to determine what caused the crash of Asiana flight 214.

KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo spoke to one of the nation’s leading aviation experts for insight into the crash.

Fajardo spoke to pilot and author Barry Schiff and asked his opinion on what might be the likely cause, or causes, of the deadly accident.

To the average person, the runway is now filled with pieces of twisted and burned metal. To Schiff, he sees pieces of a puzzle. He listened to numerous witness accounts and looked at images of the twisted wreckage.

Schiff believes he already has a bead on what went wrong. “In all probability,” he says, “this is a classic case of pilot error.”

He believes the pilot knew the landing wasn’t feeling right.

“The pilot undoubtedly knew and recognized he was too low and he was going too slow and he tried to correct at the last minute but the corrective action he took was too late and too late,” says Schiff.

The pilot was landing in clear skies. The airport’s Instrument Landing System was reportedly down and he also believes this was a factor.

“Pilots have to make what’s called a visual approach, they have to look at the runway and judge their descent and land accordingly. That’s what people were doing all day long today. But these pilots did not do it properly. They landed short.”

On a clear day, a visual approach should not have been a problem especially for an experienced pilot, said Schiff.

Schiff says pilots rely too much on  using the instrument landing system.

“Pilots have become accustomed over the years to using the instrument landing system, and pilots are developing what is called ‘Automation Complacency,'” says Schiff, “They aren’t as good in some cases at making manual landings, compared to the automated kind and this might be that case.”

Schiff wants to emphasize that he is making “educated guesses” and says, in time, we will know exactly what actually happened.

The National Transportation Safety Board will comb through all the wreckage and evidence, study the black box recordings before making a final determination as to the cause — and Schiff says that is the way it should be.

For the latest on the story from CBS affiliate KPIX-TV in San Francisco, click here.

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