NTSB: Fake Asiana pilot names originated with TV station

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says the fake, racially insensitive names for the pilots of the Asiana Airlines plane that crashed last weekend did not come from them. 

The names "Captain Sum Ting Wong," "Wi Tu Lo," "Ho Lee Fuk" and "Bang Ding Ow" were broadcast on a San Francisco television station. 

The NTSB has admitted that the names were mistakenly confirmed by an intern, but the agency said it was not the original source. 

"The intern was not the originator of the names," NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel told The Hill in an email. "He was asked by a legitimate news outlet to confirm the names they provided to him. Doing so was in violation of our long standing policy and was also outside the scope of his authority. You'd have to ask the station where [they] received the names."

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Nantel said on Monday that "appropriate action" had been taken against the intern, though she could not confirm if the individual was still employed by the agency. 

"With regard to the intern's status — what I can tell you is that we've taken appropriate action," Nantel continued. "I'm not at liberty to release the name of the individual nor can I go any further regarding status."

The San Francisco station, KTVU, has said that it was basing its erroneous report on the NTSB's confirmation.


"We made several mistakes when we received this information," KTVU anchor Frank Somerville said during an on-air apology that was broadcast on Friday night.

"First of all, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out," Somerville continued. "Then during our phone call to the NTSB, where the person confirmed the spellings of the names, we never asked that person to give us their position. We heard this person verify the information without questioning who they were, and then we rushed the names onto our noon newscast."

Asiana Airlines has threatened to sue the television station for broadcasting the fake names. 

The crash of Asiana's Flight 214 on July 6 resulted in the deaths of three passengers and more than 180 other injuries. 

-This post was updated with new information at 4:11 p.m.