“American Airlines released the flight crew schedule to ensure their availability; however, the flight crew declined to be interviewed on the grounds that their statements would be audiotaped for transcription,” the NTSB’s draft report reads. . “As a result of the crew’s repeated reluctance to proceed with a taped interview, subpoenas were issued for their testimony.”
The NTSB report says the American Airlines 777 crossed an active runway without air traffic control clearance, causing a Delta 737 to abort its takeoff.
The report says the two aircraft came within 1,400 feet of each other.
Following the report, the NTSB issued a statement saying investigators “frequently use recording devices in interviews, particularly with those who had a role in operating the equipment involved in the accident or incident.”
The agency says it has attempted to interview the American crew on three separate occasions and issued a subpoena on Friday to the three crew members involved in the incident. They have seven days to respond, says the NTSB.
The statement notes that the airline itself cooperated with the investigation.
Investigators accepted written statements from the Delta crew and determined that they contain “sufficient information”.
As CNN previously reported, the American Airlines flight continued to London’s Heathrow Airport. The flight voice recorders on both aircraft have been replaced, meaning investigators cannot hear what was said in the cockpit at the time of the incident.
The NTSB says the American crew, through their union, the Allied Pilots Association, did not consent to the interview.
“The NTSB has determined that this investigation requires that flight crew interviews be audio-recorded and transcribed by a court reporter to ensure the highest degree of accuracy, integrity and efficiency,” the report reads.
“We join in the goal of creating an accurate record of all interviews conducted in the course of an investigation,” the statement said. “However, we strongly believe that the introduction of electronic recording devices into witness interviews is more likely to hinder the investigation process rather than enhance it. Recording interviews can lead to less candid responses from witnesses who may choose to proceed under such requirements, but the existence and potential availability of recordings of interviews following the conclusion of an investigation will tend to lead to many willing crew members opting out of interviews. Either outcome would not serve to advance the objective of conducting investigations effective in promoting aviation safety.”
The union says the interviews must be “fact-finding” and not contradictory.
“We are confident that there is an acceptable solution to this issue that would satisfy the needs and concerns of all parties involved in these investigative interviews,” the union wrote.