Personal Injury

Asiana flight attendants deal with trauma, depression after San Francisco crash

San Francisco plane crash ABC News image 435x244 Asiana flight attendants deal with trauma, depression after San Francisco crashFour of the flight attendants aboard Asiana Flight 214, which crashed upon landing at San Francisco International Airport July 6, 2013, have returned to their jobs in recent weeks, but eight others are still on leave for medical and psychological treatment, the Wall Street Journal reports.

An Asiana spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that all 12 of Asiana 214’s flight attendants were offered new positions within the company, but all wished to be returned to their original jobs once they recovered.

Airplane crash survivors normally face a lengthy psychological recovery and, for most, the trauma can endure to some degree for decades.

“Crash survivors often suffer psychological problems and nightmares, but these usually subside within a few weeks, experts in post-traumatic stress say,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “In some cases, however, symptoms may continue, resulting in a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and possibly depression.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the Asiana crash, which killed three passengers and injured 187 others, and found that pilot error played a central role. According to the NTSB, the pilots depended excessively on automated flight controls, which caused them to mismanage the descent into San Francisco. When they realized that the plane was descending too low and too slowly, they attempted to abort the landing for a go-around, but it was too late.

The poor descent caused the Boeing 777 to clip the sea wall on the side of the runway, causing the airplane to spin and break apart before erupting in flames.

For the airline attendants of Flight 214 (four of whom were ejected from the aircraft), returning to work will likely require extensive counseling or medical treatment. Many survivors of severe airplane crashes will experience a worsening of post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions upon returning to work, just as many passengers may develop a fear of flying that could hinder their personal and/or professional lives.

Malaysia Airlines is struggling with the aftermath of losing two of its passenger airplanes this year. The airline said that the tragic loss of Flights 370 and 17 has devastated flight attendants and other flight crew, killing morale and leaving many too terrified to fly. The Malaysian airlines disasters have claimed the lives of 21 airline attendants, 6 pilots, and 510 passengers from several nations.


Wall Street Journal: Crew in Asiana Airlines Crash Cautiously Return to Work
Wall Street Journal: Malaysia Airlines Flight Attendants Devastated After Second Disaster