Asiana 214 Pilot realized too late plane was flying low
Thursday, 11 July 2013 00:00

asiana-214-pilot-realised-plane-flying-too-lowThe senior pilot in the cockpit of Asiana flight 214 realised the plane was too low when it was flying at only 500ft (152m), an official has said.

The Boeing 777 crash-landed at the San Francisco airport on Saturday, killing two passengers and injuring 180.

The pilot at the South Korean plane's controls was about half-way through his Boeing 777 training, an official said.

Investigators have indicated the plane was flying too slowly when it struck a sea wall before crashing on the runway.

Final moments described

In a press briefing on Tuesday, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman cautioned against speculating about the cause of the crash.

Ms Hersman also revealed that the South Korean airliner's pilots were not tested for drugs or alcohol after the crash, because they do not fall under US regulations.

And she said two flight attendants who had been sitting at the back of the plane were ejected when the plane crashed and thrown onto the tarmac. They survived but were seriously injured.

The two passengers who died have been identified as Chinese teenagers Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia. Police are investigating whether one of them survived the crash only to be run over by an emergency vehicle deploying to the crash site.

An account has emerged in recent days of Asiana 214's final moments.

As the flight bound from Incheon in South Korea approached San Francisco after its 11-hour journey across the Pacific Ocean, three out of four pilots aboard were in the cockpit.

Lee Kang-kuk, who was still completing his initial training on the Boeing 777 and had never before flown one into San Francisco, was at the controls, Ms Hersman said on Tuesday.

Beside him and in command of the aeroplane was an instructor pilot, flying in that capacity for the first time, Ms Hersman said.


'Pull back'

In the jump seat behind the two pilots was a relief first officer who had flown to San Francisco five or six times as a monitoring pilot. A fourth crewman, serving as relief captain, was in the cabin as the plane landed, and was still being interviewed by investigators on Tuesday.

As the plane approached on a clear day, the pilot in control of the plane was cleared to land. About 34 seconds prior to impact, the plane was flying at 500ft and at about 134 knots (154mph; 248km/h), when the instructor pilot realised it was flying too low.

He told the pilot to pull back on the stick, and seconds later he realised that the automated throttle controls, which had been engaged, were not maintaining the correct speed of 137 knots. About eight seconds before impact, the pilot in control pushed the throttles forward to speed up.

Less than two seconds before the crash, the pilot tried to abort the landing, but it was too late. The plane came in much too shallow. The main landing gear struck a sea wall well short of the end of the runway, then the tail struck and was ripped off the rear of the aircraft.

The aeroplane then rotated left and went into 360-degree spin before coming to rest to the left of the runway.

The first officer was hospitalised with a cracked rib, and neither of the two pilots were seriously injured.

At least 30 surviving passengers remain in San Francisco hospitals, many with serious spinal injuries..


The Boeing 777 has a good safety record, and this is thought to be the first crash involving fatalities.


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