Helios Airways Flight 522 and Asiana Airlines Flight 214 are among the well-known airplane crashes that were the result of human mismanagement and poor plane systems design. In the case of the latter, the Korean airline, Boeing, and pilots were responsible parties. Helios crash also involved Boeing as a poor pressurization system designer and pilots for mismanagement. Asiana Airlines Flight 214 occurred due to pilots not being aware of autopilot and autothrottle specificities of Boeing 777, which led to the lack of speed control. Helios Airways Flight 522 crash was caused by pilots accidentally switching the pressurization system to the manual, which resulted in hypoxia and loss of consciousness. After the fuel depletion, the plane crashed in the mountainous area due to the lack of control.
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Crisis management is conducted in three major steps, such as prevention, response, and recovery. Both airlines can be held responsible for the crashes because the pilots showed indications of inadequate training and awareness of the plane specificities. In addition, the two crashes also include some form of defective design from Boeing, which was also partly blameworthy for the incidents. Therefore, the cases involve multifactorial accidents with core elements of human error and improper aircraft systems.
Helios Airways’ crisis response was not effective at ensuring that the airline survives, because it stopped its operations in 2006 due to having its bank accounts frozen by the Cyprus government. In addition, the company did not build communication channels with clients and victims. It only announced that its Boeing fleet would undergo safety checks without further notice. Lastly, instead of properly handling the crisis, Helios Airways made an attempt to change its name to “ajet,” but it closed down a year later. Therefore, the only strong point of the response is the safety check of the Boeing fleet. The weak point is the lack of proper communication and active avoidance of reputation loss through name changing. The airline lost all of its legitimacy as an organization that needs to ensure safety and functionality.
In comparison, Asiana Airlines’ response was more appropriate and well-managed, despite exhibiting some form of blame-shifting and protectionism at the beginning of the process. The CEO of the company initially defended its incompetent pilots by stating that they are highly experienced and well-trained. However, later, the airline started to cooperate and admitted the fact that poor pilot training was the cause of the disaster. In addition, it communicated that the company’s pilots would undergo more effective and up-to-date training procedures. The airline also promised to improve its safety management systems by ensuring pilot rest and preventing fatigue. The leadership additionally provided compensation of $10000 to the survivors and more to the families of dead victims. Therefore, the strong points of the response were the presence of extensive communication between the Korean airline and the public and a multitude of actions for further improvement. The weak point is the initial blame-shifting from the leadership, which could potentially ruin the company’s reputation. Asiana was able to preserve its legitimacy through deliberate actions of communication and announcements regarding its next steps for ensuring safety and proper training.
Both airlines had major issues with their pilot competencies, where they did not know of essential elements of the aircraft. It is especially true in the case of Helios, where the crew needs to be aware of the pressurization system in order to avoid hypoxia. Korean airline pilots also were unaware of Boeing’s autothrottle and autopilot system, which led to the loss of speed. However, Asiana was successful at preserving its legitimacy and reputation, whereas Helios completely mishandled the crisis.