Asiana Airlines to sue TV station for airing 'offensive' fake pilots names

Asiana Airlines is planning to sue a San Francisco television station for a report that misidentified the pilots of crashed Flight 214 using fake racially offensive names, according to reports.

San Francisco television station KTVU falsely identified the pilots of the Boeing 777 that crashed two weeks ago as "Captain Sum Ting Wong," "Wi Tu Lo," "Ho Lee Fuk" and "Bang Ding Ow."

The station attributed the names to an erroneous report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and it issued an on-air apology for the mistake on Friday.


"Tonight we want to take a moment and say that we are sorry. Earlier today during our noon newscast, we misidentified the pilots in the Asiana Airlines crash," KTVU anchor Frank Somerville said during the segment, which the agency posted on its Facebook page.

Somerville went on to say the station made "several mistakes" during its erroneous report about the Asiana crash.

"First of all, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out," he explained. "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."

The NTSB has confirmed that it was the initial source of the fake pilot names.

The agency apologized for the error, and placed blame for the mistake on a summer intern.

"The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6," the agency said in a statement. "Earlier today, in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft."

The agency said releasing the names of pilots, even if they were correct, is not within its normal protocol for investigating accidents.

"The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crew members or people involved in transportation accidents to the media," the agency said. "We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today's incident. Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated."

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

-This story was updated with new information at 4:16 p.m.

Here is video of the TV station's initial report, which was posted to YouTube:

The company's on-air apology about the erroneous report can be viewed here.