Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Pilots quizzed in Asiana crash probe

09 July 2013, 11:30

Los Angeles - Investigators probing the Asiana Airlines plane crash in San Francisco began interviewing cockpit crew of the Boeing 777 amid mounting indications that pilot error may have caused the fatal accident.

Two teenage Chinese girls were killed and more than 180 people injured when the Asiana flight from Seoul clipped a seawall short of the runway and went skidding out of control on its belly, shredding the tail end of the plane and starting a fire.

Deborah Hersman, head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said the aircraft's four-man flying crew were being quizzed as it emerged the plane had been flying well below the recommended speed for landing when it crashed at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday.

"We will determine exactly what happened, when it happened and how it happened, if it was consistent with their process or procedures or if there is any deviation," she said.

Flight data showed the plane had been travelling at approximately 106 knots at impact - sharply lower than the target speed necessary for landing.

"137 knots is the speed that they want to have when they cross the threshold of the runway," Hersman said, noting that the aircraft crew were tasked with ensuring the correct speed of the plane.

Trainer's first day

"The crew is responsible to make a safe approach to the airport. [Air traffic controllers] are not responsible for speed management on the aircraft."

Asiana confirmed that the pilot of the aircraft, 46-year-old Lee Kang-Kuk, was being trained on operating the Boeing 777. The trainer assigned to guide him, Lee Jung-Min, was on his first day of the job, Asiana later added.

The airline said pilot Lee had just 43 hours of experience in piloting the popular passenger aircraft, although he had accumulated more than 9 000 hours of flight time experience on other planes.

Lee Jung-Min, the trainer, had more than 3 000 hours of flight time on the Boeing 777, a spokesperson for the airline said.

Asiana CEO Yoon Young-Doo described media reports that pilot error may have caused the tragedy as "intolerable", calling it a "matter of speculation".

Hersman later told CNN it was too soon to blame the accident on human error.

Girl possibly run over

"It really is too early to conclude a pilot error because there is so much that we don't know," she said.

"We have to understand what these pilots knew, we also need to look at how they were flying the aircraft - were they handflying the airplane? Were they relying on auto-pilot or some combination of the two? "We've seen some of these challenges in previous investigations with respect to automation and so we want to make sure that we fully understand it before we reach any conclusions."

Chinese state media meanwhile identified the two dead passengers as Ye Mengyuan, aged 16, and Wang Linjia, aged 17, high school classmates from eastern China's Zhejiang province.

One of the girls may have been run over by an airport fire engine rushing to the scene, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White told reporters on Monday.

"That is a possibility," Hayes-White said.

San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault earlier told the San Francisco Chronicle that the other girl appeared to have died from injuries suffered as she was hurled out of the plane.

123 unharmed

The two friends were coming to visit Stanford University, just south of San Francisco, and to attend a summer camp at a local Christian school, the Chronicle reported.

Asiana Flight 214, which originated in Shanghai and stopped in Seoul, had 291 passengers and 16 crew members aboard.

In total, 123 people on the flight escaped unharmed, US officials said.

South Korean passenger Kim Ji-Eun, who was seated a few rows ahead of dozens of Chinese passengers at the rear of the cabin, including the two girls, described the terrifying crash.

"I saw people whose seat belts were somehow unbuckled being thrown out everywhere," Kim, aged 22, told the Chosun Ilbo daily.

20 in critical condition

"It was so scary. The [second] thud was so loud that people started screaming. I blinked once and looked back, only to see no one there," she said.

"I was so shocked to realise that none of the people who were seating behind me were there," she told the newspaper.

Officials said about 20 people remained in critical condition in hospital.

According to aviation safety databases, the two dead teens are the Boeing 777's first fatalities in 18 years of service.

It was the first deadly Asiana passenger plane crash since June 1993, when one of its Boeing 737s slammed into a mountain in South Korea, killing 68.

Asiana shares were up 1.55% on Tuesday, after falling nearly 6% the previous day.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...