Asiana Airlines considering legal action over fake pilot names

Asiana Airlines considering legal action over fake pilot names

Credit: Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06: A Boeing 777 airplane lies burned near the runway after it crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport July 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California. An Asiana Airlines passenger aircraft coming from Seoul, South Korea crashed while landing, killing two people and injuring scores of others. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)


by Daniel Arkin, Staff Writer, NBC News

Posted on July 14, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Asiana Airlines is weighing legal action after the National Transportation Safety Board mistakenly confirmed to a California television station fake, racially offensive names for the pilots of the flight that crashed last week in San Francisco, reports NBC.

The Friday report on Oakland TV station KTVU, which used four erroneous and racially charged names for the pilots of Flight 214, seriously damaged the reputation of the four pilots and the company, according to Ki Won Suh, a public relations representative for Asiana Airlines.

Suh said that Asiana Airlines is, for that reason, “considering legal action” against KTVU and the NTSB. It was not immediately clear Sunday what legal recourse the airline was mulling.

The TV station and the federal investigative agency have both apologized for the report. “

We have a lot of good people here at KTVU Channel 2. We pride ourselves on getting it right and having the highest of standards and integrity," the station said in an on-air apology Friday later uploaded to its website. "Clearly, on Friday, that didn't happen. So again, from everyone here at KTVU, we offer our sincerest apology."

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The NTSB has said that the bogus names were confirmed by an unidentified summer intern.

“Earlier today, in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft,” the NTSB said Friday.

“The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6,” the statement said.

The phony names, which could be seen as Asian-stereotype spellings of phrases like “Something Wrong” and “We Too Low,” were read by an anchor during KTVU’s noon broadcast Friday.

The anchor, Tori Campbell, later in the broadcast said the names “were not accurate despite an NTSB official in Washington confirming them late this morning.”

“We apologize for this error,” she said.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the NTSB, told Reuters that the intern was a student volunteer who fielded phone calls but was instructed to transfer questions to official media representatives at the agency.

She declined to say if the unidentified intern was relieved of his post, but the NTSB said in their statement that “appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.”

The Asian American Journalists Association said Friday that the station is “hardly off the hook” for reporting the “grossly offensive” names.

“We fail to understand how those obviously phony names could escape detection before appearing on the broadcast and were spoken by the news anchor,” said Paul Cheung, the association president, in a statement. “We urge KTVU to conduct a thorough review to prevent similar lapses.”

The four pilots returned to South Korea on Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

Asiana Airlines Flight 214 slammed into the seawall and caught fire on the runway at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, killing three and injuring scores of others.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.