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NBC Bay Area’s news team set the bar for coverage with big-picture context and expert analysis without speculation in the hours and days after Asiana Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, 2013. Beyond having the major facts and developments of the breaking news first, NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit over the following months deepened that coverage with investigations that exposed safety issues within the aviation industry; issues that both the FAA and NTSB later confirmed and acknowledged as critical safety concerns. The Unit: •First widely exposed the danger that pilots tend to become addicted to automation in the cockpit •First uncovered the little-known Flight Level Change Mode trap as a potential safety issue, one that may have played a role in this crash •First to go inside and tour several international flight schools based in the U.S. where pilots such as the Asiana crew trained •First to uncover questionable gaps in training and experience of young, foreign pilots who come to the U.S. to learn to fly commercial large-body airplanes
KGO-TV got a tip from a father that had failed to find his two daughters after six months of search. "He explained his ex-wife had abducted the girls during a nasty custody dispute. The mother was in jail refusing to tell the judge where she had hidden the girls." KGO was able to retraces the woman's steps and identified the group of people holding the girls. The man leading that group was a child molester, and KGO did a report about that, so the rest of the group members feared for the girls safety and took them to the TV station.
Off a tip from a United Airlines employee, KRON-TV's investigative team began examining airport security at the largest terminal at San Francisco International Airport, the United terminal. Using hidden cameras, KRON was able to document major flaws in the terminal's security system, where access to restricted areas, the airfield, and passengers baggage was lax in certain places. A insider from United provided the majority of information on the security problems, despite the threat of prosecution from the FAA and United.
"Although San Francisco International Airport officials, and the local media, have repeatedly painted rosy pictures of a massive airport construction program that includes a new international terminal, the program is $1 billion over budget and years behind schedule. A review of airport budgets, contracts, audits, and other internal documents shows that much of the delay and overspending is attributable to what can only be described as bad management. And the management structure for the airport project appears to be teeming with conflicts of interest, as construction managers supervise themselves and set policy for a project where the bill for construction management- not construction itself, but the overseeing of construction contractors- has grown by more than 150 percent and now tops $196 million."