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April 17, 2014

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NTSB to review Asiana crash at hearing Wednesday


National Transportation Safety Board / AP

This photo provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, shows Investigator in Charge Bill English, foreground, and Chairman Deborah Hersman discussing the progress of the investigation into the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco. The Asiana flight crashed upon landing Saturday, July 6, at San Francisco International Airport, and two of the 307 passengers aboard were killed.

WASHINGTON — The National Transportation Safety Board is holding a hearing Wednesday to try to learn why so many things went wrong when an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport in July, leaving three people dead and more than 150 injured.

An Asiana chief pilot is slated to testify on what the airline teaches about automated systems and visual approach procedures. That's a focus for the safety board, which has questioned whether the three men in the cockpit were overly reliant on electronic systems.

San Francisco Fire Department Assistant Deputy Chief Dale Carnes is also scheduled to talk about how a fire truck racing toward the burning plane ran over a survivor on the tarmac.

The hearing was originally scheduled to run for two days, starting Tuesday, but it was postponed because of wintry weather in Washington, D.C.

Footage taken after the crash showed a fire truck running over 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan while she was lying on the tarmac covered with fire-retardant foam. The San Mateo County coroner later ruled that she was killed by the truck.

Attorneys representing some of the more than 60 crash victims suing the airline and Boeing Co. plan to attend the hearing. Asiana Airlines is also offering $10,000 to each of the surviving passengers, a payout the airline says is not a settlement and does not prevent passengers from suing the airline.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said early in the crash investigation that her experts had found no mechanical problems with the plane, and that one of the three pilots told investigators after the accident that he thought the plane's automatic throttle was maintaining speed as the plane descended to land, but later discovered it wasn't sending power to the engine.

NTSB investigators left open whether the autothrottle was ever fully engaged.

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