I was a pilot of Asiana by Capt. Bibiano Elegir

Capt. Tony Sanchez and I were together in Philippine Airlines flying different types of aircraft until Tony retired in PAL as a B747- 400 captain. I transferred to Asiana Airlines in 1996 and retired in 2004. The maximum retirement age at that time was 60 years old. I also retired as captain of a B747- 400.

Today, the maximum retirement age of a pilot is 65. During those days in the 70s we allow visitors in the cockpit even on take-offs and landings but strict FAA rules prohibited such practices due to the 9/11 incident.

In Hong Kong, the approach landing at Kai Tak airport as we call it the IGS (Instrument Guidance System) or checkerboard approach is quite a bit scary for some passengers but a thrill for us pilots every time we make that landing. A youtube link shows and explains the normal approach.

In case the pilot does not see the checkerboard at a certain level and distance, it is mandatory for him to make a miss approach or “go around” procedure, request for another attempt to land but when the weather remains the same, he has to return to his point of origin. This is where discipline plays a major role among pilots.

Capt. Tony Sanchez and I have made those landings a hundred times until the airport was relocated to the new Chek Lap Kok International Airport in 1998. Landing at Chek Lap Kok is less challenging than Kai Tak  though strong crosswinds can also be a problem. Every time Kai Tak airport is mentioned, it always brings back memories among pilots.

The Airbus A380-800 landing at SFO International Airport

This is the ideal landing at SFO on a clear day when everything is in excellent condition that is daytime, good weather, all landing instruments active. The A380-800 is the largest and most modern aircraft today. It is every pilot’s dream to reach the maximum retirement age and to fly his last flight on the largest most modern aircraft to date. Luckily I was able to fulfill that dream because I flew my last flight on a B747- 400 in Asiana Airlines in 2004.

Airbus 380 began its commercial service in 2007.  I was deeply saddened by the news when I learned of the Asiana FLT 214 crash, the last airline I flew with. Asiana FLT 214 made exactly the same approach procedure made by the A380 except that the ILS (Instrument Landing System) of the airport was not working. It was just unfortunate they did not land safely.

Many are asking me if it was pilot’s error. Let me just say that in aircraft accidents, 85% are caused by human error and the other 15 % are caused by weather, aircraft malfunction, etc. We just have to wait for the result of the investigation. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9MTLlzf8Co).

Putting this accident behind, I still recommend to friends to take Asiana. It was awarded “Airline of the Year” in 2009 and the best airline in 2010. Asiana is owned by the Kumho Group. Don’t be afraid to fly, it’s still the safest transport.”

Updated: 2013-08-07 — 18:39:16