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After Asiana plane crash, fliers want more information on pilots

By Peter Samore | Posted - Jul 17th, 2013 @ 5:51pm

SALT LAKE CITY — In light of the Asiana Airlines crash that led to the death of three people, many fliers are questioning whether or not the pilots of their plane are up for the job.

Looking into a pilot's history can be a challenge. Gordon Poulson, from Salt Lake City, said he wants the right to know, and easily.

"I would kind of like a background," Poulson said. "I mean, people check out businesses all the time and do research on them. I don't think there's anything wrong with checking out your pilot's background and history."

Other passengers interviewed at the Salt Lake International Airport said they don't worry too much about who is flying them, though.

People check out businesses all the time and do research on them. I don't think there's anything wrong with checking out your pilot's background and history.

–Gordon Poulson

"We've traveled a lot," said Philip Jarell, from Shenyang, China. "Generally, airlines are safe and there are very few accidents. It doesn't seem a question that needs asking."

In order to check on a pilot, passengers first need to get the pilot's name. But in many cases that's easier said than done and it doesn't typically happen.

"(It's) to protect their privacy," said Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Mainz. "The flight crew could change if we run into issues with delays, or flight crews running out of hours."

Mainz said if passengers want to know about pilots, they should talk to them personally. When asked about his background, pilot Bryan Grosgebauer said he has nothing to hide.

"I'm proud of my heritage, and what I've done as a pilot," he said.


Grosgebauer has been flying commercially for 30 years and he's never had passengers question or be wary of his abilities.

"That would be fairly extreme; we call that person a white-knuckler," he said. "They have the freedom to do that but I would never recommend that someone do that."

Passengers must take down the pilots' names and search the FAA database after the flight. If they want more information, they can file a Freedom of Information Act request, which could take months. Even then, retired Delta Capt. Valerie Walker of Sandy said the records may not help.

"You can hurt a lot of innocent people and really not do yourself any good by making assumptions that are not correct based on data that really doesn't give you a clear picture," she said.

Walker added no one can know what planes the pilots have flown, in which circumstances and what they learned. It's clear, however, that negligent and drunken pilots don't get to fly anymore.

"That's a definite firing if not a jail term," she said. Grosgebauer said reporting pilot error has vastly improved over the past 30 years because the public, airlines and the FAA have all demanded it.

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