In the news today, an Asiana airlines plane crashed at the San Francisco International Airport. The anchors referred to an incident that happened Nov 22, 1968. In that incident, a Japan Airlines plane missed the runway and landed in San Francisco Bay. No one was injured. The pilot was Captain Kohei Asoh. When asked by the National Transportation Safety Board why he landed in the bay, Captain Asoh evoked what then became known as the “Asoh Defense.” He said, “As you Americans say, I fucked up." In layman terms, it was pilot error. I think the NTSB will find the same happened in the recent accident.
I learned of the Asoh Defense in the Army when I attended training to become an Inspector General in 1984. A number of management trainers have used the term as an example of accepting responsibility for one’s own actions. It is a rare attribute seen today. People are quick to blame
others when they should admit their own failure. Asho could have easily blamed the weather, which was a factor. The airport also has challenging terrain. Asho attempted to use an automatic-coupled Instrument Landing System (ILS) with which he was not familiar. He did not blame the equipment or his lack of training on it. Ultimately, the incident was his responsibility as captain. JAL punished Asoh, but he was able to continue his career until retirement.
I wrote about accepting responsibility in my e-book, Leadership for New Managers: Book Two. I wrote, “Leader/managers have the responsibility for the consequences of their actions.” The same is true for pilots. http://clicktotweet.com/zwv6m
It will be interesting to see if the Asiana pilot uses the Asoh Defense in his testimony later this week.