US regulators fine Asiana Airlines $500,000.
US regulators fine Asiana Airlines $500,000.Reuters

US regulators have fined Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to help the families of passengers on a flight that crashed in San Francisco last July. Three people were killed in the crash and more than 180 were injured.

Asiana Flight 214, a Boeing 777 aircraft, en route from Seoul, crash-landed close to the runway at San Francisco airport after slamming into a sea-wall.

US federal law requires that airlines provide specific services to passengers and their families in the event of a crash. The Department of Transport said it was the first time it issued a fine under that law.

An Asiana spokesman in Los Angeles refused to comment and directed questions to the airline's headquarters in Seoul, which was not immediately available, reported Reuters.

Delayed Response

For almost a day after the 6 July, 2013 crash, Asiana failed to broadcast widely a telephone number where family members could get information, the department said.

Asiana also took two days to send a sufficient number of trained personnel to San Francisco and initially lacked an adequate number of staff able to communicate in the languages spoken by the flight's passengers, the department said.

In addition, Asiana took two full days to contact the families of just three-quarters of the passengers, the DOT said, adding that the families of several passengers were not contacted until five days after the crash.

Not until five days after the crash did Asiana have the resources needed to carry out all of its responsibilities under US law.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the accident.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement: "In the very rare event of a crash, airlines have a responsibility to provide their full support to help passengers and their families by following all the elements of their family assistance plans.

"The last thing families and passengers should have to worry about at such a stressful time is how to get information from their carrier," Foxx added.

The US Department of Transportation said in a statement: "Asiana's response to the crash of flight 214 indicates that the carrier failed to commit sufficient resources to carry out its family assistance plan,"

Survivors Sue Boeing and Asiana

In January, passengers on Flight 214 decided to sue the manufacturer, Boeing, claiming equipment aboard the 777 was faulty.

One of the victims of the accident, 16-year-old Ye Mengyuan, was killed after the crash when she was run over by a fire truck when covered in foam used to fight the blaze. The girl's family are pursuing a separate claim against the San Francisco Fire Department.

In 2013, nine passengers aboard Flight 214 filed lawsuits against both Boeing and Asiana in a federal court in San Francisco.

Asiana also announced they were planning to sue San Francisco TV station KTVU-TV for inadvertently broadcasting made-up names related to the pilots' Eastern origins. The airline later dropped the claim.

The Asiana crash was the first fatal commercial aircraft mishap in the US since February 2009.