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San Francisco Plane Crash: New Details Point To Pilot Error

Brianna Sacks |
July 7, 2013 | 6:45 p.m. PDT


(Inside the plane/Photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board)
(Inside the plane/Photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board)
The National Transportation Safety Board said that the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 that crash-landed at San Francisco airport Saturday was flying far too slowly to reach the runway and slowed to a near-stall before the pilot attempted to abort the landing 1.5 seconds before it crashed into a seawall near the runway.

The board's investigation points sharply to pilot error as of Sunday, though Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference that “everything is on the table right now. It is too early to rule anything out.”

CNN reported that the pilot, Lee Kang-gook, had never landed a Boeing 777 before. The San Francisco crash-landing was his first time. He had flown into the city several times from 1999 to 2004, however, but had clocked just 43 hours behind a Boeing 777.

“There is no discussion of any aircraft anomalies or concern with the approach,” said Hersman. But the airplane was " was significantly below the 137 knots” required for landing.

Hersman said she will interview crew members within the next few days.

SEE ALSO:  Cause Of San Francisco Plane Crash Under Investigation

The cockpit recorder revealed that seven seconds before impact there was a call to increase the plane’s speed from a crew members. Three seconds later a “stick shaker” — a noisy vibration intended to warn the pilot — indicated the plane was about to stall. Just one and a half seconds later, a crew member called out to abort the landing.

The recorder also offered two hours of clear content from the flight and indicated that the Boeing 777 was cleared for visual approach. The engines appeared to be working properly. Throttles were advanced “a few seconds prior to impact and the engines appear to respond normally,” said Hersman.

SEE ALSO: UPDATE: Airliner Crashes At San Francisco Airport

Hersman said her agency was a long way — perhaps months — from reaching a conclusion on what caused the crash.

Two Chinese teenagers were killed and almost 200 injured. Authorities say the two girls were thrown from the plane onto the runway and the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday that one of the girls may have dies after being run over by an emergency respond vehicle speeding to the plane.

Read the whole story at the L.A. Times

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