Role of aircraft automation eyed in air crash

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By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The crash landing of a South Korean airliner in San Francisco is reviving concern that airline pilots get so little opportunity to fly without the aid of sophisticated automation that their stick-and-rudder skills are eroding.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, is a long way from reaching a conclusion as to its probable cause. Information released by the board thus far appears to point to pilot error, although the investigation's focus could shift.

Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed short of its target runway in broad daylight Saturday under near ideal weather conditions. The plane was traveling far too slowly when it crashed.

Safety experts said it appears none of the flight's pilots noticed the air speed problem or intervened until it was too late.

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