First photographs from inside wrecked San Francisco plane as black box reveals pilots – including one on FIRST training flight – desperately tried to abort landing just 1.5 seconds before impact
- Asiana Airlines revealed pilot was training for the long-range plane and that it was his first flight to the airport in it
- The pilot had 43-hours experience of flying the 777, a spokesperson for the airline revealed
- Pictures released by the National Transportation Safety Board reveal the scenes of devastation inside the jet
- The crew tried to increase its speed and abort its landing just seconds before it hit the seawall in front of the runway
- Recordings show crew had no concerns before landing then tried to ‘go around’ 1.5 seconds before impact
- The airport’s Glide Path system, which is designed to avoid runway misses in a variety of weather, was switched off
- The crash killed two teenage Chinese students and injured more than 180 people
The first images from inside the stricken Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crashed at San Francisco’s airport on Saturday were released today as it emerged the pilot was on his maiden training flight and had only 43 hours experience at the controls of a Boeing 777.
The chilling photographs – published by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board – show seats slammed out of their rivets and oxygen masks dangling from the overhead compartments, giving some indication of the terror that the 307 passengers and crew experienced as the plane’s botched landing killed two and injured 181 people.
It comes as the flight recorder or black box from the doomed aircraft revealed that the craft was ‘significantly below’ its intended speed and its crew tried to abort the landing less than two seconds before it hit a seawall, severing the tail section of the plane and almost flipping onto one side.
‘He was training,’ a spokeswoman for Asiana Airlines, Lee Hyomin, told Reuters of pilot Lee Kang-Kook.
‘Even a veteran gets training,’ the airlines spokeswoman said. ‘He has a lot of experience and previously had flown to San Francisco on different planes, including the B747 … and was assisted by another pilot who has more experience with the 777.’
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Investigation: U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators attend to the scene of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash site at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California on Sunday
His co-pilot, Lee Jeong-Min had 3,200 hours of flying experience aboard a 777 and was in the cockpit with Kang-Kook when the disaster struck.
The black box aboard the Boeing 777 jetliner set out three crucial moments that show the plane was approaching the runway too slowly and that the pilots were trying to correct the problem.
Information collected from the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder indicated that there were no signs of trouble until seven seconds before impact, when the crew tried to accelerate, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said at a news conference at the airport.
A stall warning, in which the cockpit controls begin to shake, activated four seconds before impact, and the crew tried to abort the landing and initiate what is known as a ‘go around’ maneuver 1.5 seconds before crashing, Hersman said.
National Transportation Safety Board officials said today that the jetliner, which was carrying 291 passengers, was flying ‘significantly’ slower than the 137 knots that is ideal for jetliners preparing to land in San Francisco.
‘We have to take another look at the raw data and corroborate it with radar and air traffic information to make sure we have a very precise speed,’ Hersman said.
‘But again, we are not talking about a few knots here or there. We’re talking about a significant amount of speed below 137.’
By all accounts, the plane was set to land normally; its landing gear was down and its flaps were set to the standard 30 degrees.
Not once beforehand did any member of the flights crew radio the control tower for help.
But in the aftermath of the deadly crash it has been revealed that the tower received one solitary message from the cockpit that said, ‘Hello, hello. I have trouble.’
‘214 heavy, emergency vehicles are responding. Emergency vehicles are responding,’ responded the tower according to NBC News.
‘Okay, I cannot…’ the pilot starts to say, before his voice becomes unintelligible.
It comes as dramatic amateur video footage that shows the terrifying moment that Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash-landed onto the runway at San Francisco airport emerged.
Plane spotter Fred Hayes filmed the deadly crash on Saturday as the Boeing 777 came in for its doomed landing at the West Coast airport where it spun around before coming to a stop in a fiery cloud of dust and smoke.
The footage, and a separate dramatic sequence of pictures, shows the entire crash, from the moment of impact, to when thick smoke started to pour out of the plane.
NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman, speaking at a news conference at the airport, said there were no indications of any problems with the plane or the landing until 7 seconds before impact, when the crew tried to increase the plane’s speed. Hersman said data recorders show the plane was traveling ‘significantly below’ the planned speed.
Stranded passengers sleep in the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport on July 7, 2013, in San Francisco, California
The stall warning sounded four seconds before impact, and the crew tried to abort the landing and initiate what’s known as a ‘go around’ maneuver just 1.5 seconds before crashing, Hersman said.
‘Air speed was significantly below the target airspeed,’ said Hersman.
The crash killed two teenage Chinese students and injured more than 180 people, at least two dozen of them seriously, local officials said.
Impact: Plane spotter Fred Hayes captures the moment Flight 214 cartwheels across the runway and crashes as it comes in to land at San Francisco airport
In a tragic new twist, the San Francisco Fire Department said that one of the teenagers may have been run over by an emergency vehicle as first responders scrambled to the scene.
‘One of the deceased did have injuries consistent with those of having been run over by a vehicle,’ fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said. ‘Many agencies were on the field yesterday.’
Autopsies to determine the cause of death will be conducted by the San Mateo County coroner’s office, officials said.
Hersman said the aircraft’s stick shaker — a piece of safety equipment that warns pilots of an impending stall — went off moments before the crash. The normal response to a stall warning is to increase speed to recover control.
Asked whether the information reviewed by the NTSB showed pilot error in the crash, Hersman did not answer directly.
‘What I will tell you is that the NTSB conducts very thorough investigations. We will not reach a determination of probable cause in the first few days that we’re on an accident scene,’ she told reporters.
The pilots are now being tested for alcohol, drugs and fatigue as the NTSB asked members of the public who filmed or photographed the crash to share their information.
Asiana said mechanical failure did not appear to be a factor in the crash. Hersman confirmed that a part of the airport’s instrument-landing system was offline on Saturday but cautioned against drawing conclusions from that, noting that the so-called glide slope system was not essential to safe operations in good weather. She said it was a clear day with good visibility.
Flight 214 was carrying more than 300 people when it crashed on Saturday at San Francisco International Airport. The aircrafts tail was torn off as it crashed, and it burst into flames.
Investigation: Deborah Hersman, Chairman of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) speaks as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (left) stands beside, during a news conference at San Francisco International Airport on July 7, 2013
Interior damage to the plane also was extreme, Hersman said on CNN earlier on Sunday.
‘You can see the devastation from the outside of the aircraft, the burn-through, the damage to the external fuselage,’ she said. ‘But what you can’t see is the damage internally. That is really striking.’
The NTSB released photos showing the wrecked interior cabin oxygen masks dangling from the ceiling.
Six people remained in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital on Sunday, including one girl, a hospital spokeswoman said, and 13 others were in less serious condition.
At least five people were still being treated at other area hospitals on Sunday morning.
Some of the injured at San Francisco General suffered spinal fractures, including paralysis, and others sustained head trauma and abdominal injuries, according to Margaret Knudson, chief of surgery at the hospital.
At least two patients also suffered ‘severe road rash suggesting they were dragged,’ Knudson said. The injured patients who were able to talk said they
According to Hersman, the landing appeared to be routine until the controller noticed the plane hit the sea wall. There were no prior calls for help before
‘The speed was significantly below 174 knots, we’re not talking about a few knots,’ she said.
A preliminary investigation of the aircraft’s recordings showed the flight was cleared for visual approach, which was confirmed by the crew. Preparations were then made for the approach and the landing gear went down. The target speed was given as 137 knots, but no anomalies or concerns were raised.
Aftermath: The wreckage of Asiana Airlines flight 214 rests on runway 28L after it crash landed at San Francisco International Airport on July 7th, 2013
FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson said on Saturday that ‘at this point in time, there is no indication of terrorism.’
Seven seconds before the impact, a member of the crew called for speed to be increased, a stick shift was heard taking place before a call for a ‘go-around’ was heard 1.5 seconds before the impact.
The call for a ‘go-around’ is used when a crew wants to abort a landing and try again.
Readings from the plane showed that the throttles were idle and air speed was slowed below the target airspeed. A few seconds before the impact the throttles were advanced a few seconds and the engines appeared to respond normally.
The plane was coming in from Seoul when witnesses said its tail appeared to hit the approach area of a runway that juts into San Francisco Bay.
The impact knocked off the plane’s tail and the aircraft appeared to bounce violently, scattering a trail of debris and spinning before coming to rest on the tarmac.
Benjamin Levy, a 39-year-old venture capitalist from San Francisco who sat in a window seat near one of the wings, said the flight crew gave ‘no indication whatsoever’ that there was any problem with the landing moments before the aircraft struck the runway.
Following the initial collision, ‘we’re going back up and I’m thinking maybe we’re taking off again. We didn’t and we went back pretty hard and bounced,’ he told reporters after being released from San Francisco General.
‘It’s like a Six Flags show,’ he said, referring to a theme park. ‘We were skipping on the runway.’
Joanne Hayes-White, the San Francisco Fire Department chief, said Sunday that it was ‘nothing short of a miracle that we had 123 people walk away from this.’
‘It was boom! The back end just hits and flies up into the air and everybody’s head goes up to the ceiling. And then it just kind of drifts for a little bit, probably a good 300 yards, and then it tips over,’ another passenger Elliott Stone told CNN.
The plane nearly cartwheeled in the air, coming to rest in a burst of red smoke, witnesses said. All of a sudden about 300 people rushed for the exits.
‘It was disbelief, screaming. It went really, really fast.’ Levy said. Passengers threw open emergency exits.
Stone, who had been sitting in the middle of the plane, escaped from the wreckage and waited nearby for help.
‘Twenty minutes later, this lady just appears from like 500 yards away, just like crippled, just walking,’ said Stone. ‘We start running over and there’s like another five bodies out like 500 yards away that nobody saw.’
Stone surmised that they might have been flight attendants who fell out when the plane’s tail broke off on impact.
Pictures taken by survivors showed passengers hurrying out of the wrecked plane, some on evacuation slides. Thick smoke billowed from the fuselage and TV footage later showed the aircraft gutted and blackened by fire. Much of its roof was gone.
HORROR IN THE SKIES: DEADLIEST U.S. PLANE CRASHES SINCE 2001
- 12 February 2009: Colgan Air Dash 8 Q-400; near Buffalo, NY: The aircraft crashed in a residential area, killing al 44 passengers and four crew members, along with one person on the ground.
- 27 August 2006: Comair CRJ-100; Lexington, KY: The aircraft was on a domestic flight from Lexington, KY to Atlanta, GA. The aircraft crashed after takeoff, killing two of the three crew members and all 47 passengers.
- 19 December 2005: Chalk’s Ocean Airways Grumman G-73T Mallard; Miami, FL: The aircraft flying from Miami to the island of Bimini experienced a structural failure. The jet crashed into Biscayne Bay, killing both crew members and all 18 passengers.
- 8 January 2003: US Airways Express Beech 1900; Charlotte, NC: The aircraft crashed into a maintenance hanger at the airport, killing both pilots and all 19 passengers.
- 12 November 2001: American Airlines A300; Queens, New York: The aircraft was on a flight from New York to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic when it crashed into a residential neighborhood just outside JFK airport, killing five people on the ground, all nine crew members and 251 passengers, including five infants.
Interior damage to the plane also was extreme, Hersman said on CNN.
‘You can see the devastation from the outside of the aircraft, the burn-through, the damage to the external fuselage,’ she said. ‘But what you can’t see is the damage internally. That is really striking.’
The dead were identified as Ye Meng Yuan and Wang Lin Jia, both 16-year-old girls and described as Chinese nationals who are students, Asiana Airlines said. They had been seated at the rear of the aircraft, according to government officials in Seoul and Asiana, and were found outside the airplane.
The crash was the first fatal accident involving the Boeing 777, a popular long-range jet that has been in service since 1995. It was the first fatal commercial airline accident in the United States since a regional plane operated by Colgan Air crashed in New York in 2009.
‘For now, we acknowledge that there were no problems caused by the 777-200 plane or (its) engines,’ Yoon Young-doo, the president and CEO of the airline, told reporters on Sunday at the company headquarters on the outskirts of Seoul.
Asiana on Sunday said the flight, which originated in Shanghai, had carried 291 passengers and 16 crew members. The passengers included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 64 U.S. citizens, three Indians, three Canadians, one French, one Vietnamese and one Japanese citizen.
Vedpal Singh, a native of India, was on board the flight along with his wife and son when the aircraft struck the landing strip.
‘Your instincts take over. You don’t know what’s going on,’ said Singh, who had his arm in a sling as he walked through the airport’s international terminal and told reporters he had suffered a fractured collar bone.
Asiana, South Korea’s junior carrier, has had two other fatal crashes in its 25-year history.
A senior Asiana official said the pilot was Lee Jeong-min, a veteran pilot who has spent his career with the airline. He was among four pilots on the plane who rotated on two-person shifts during the 10-hour flight, the official said.
Among the travelers were citizens of China, South Korean, the United States, Canada, India, Japan, Vietnam and France. There were at least 70 Chinese students and teachers heading to summer camps, according to Chinese authorities.
As the plane approached the runway under clear skies — a luxury at an airport and city known for intense fog — people in nearby communities could see the aircraft was flying low and swaying erratically from side to side.
On board, Fei Xiong, from China, was traveling to California so she could take her 8-year-old son to Disneyland. The pair was sitting in the back half of the plane. Xiong said her son sensed something was wrong.
‘My son told me: ‘The plane will fall down, it’s too close to the sea,’’ she said. ‘‘I told him: ‘Baby, it’s OK, we’ll be fine.’’
On audio recordings from the air traffic tower, controllers told all pilots in other planes to stay put after the crash. ‘All runways are closed. Airport is closed. San Francisco tower,’ said one controller.
At one point, the pilot of a United Airlines plane radioed.
‘We see people … that need immediate attention,’’ the pilot said. ‘‘They are alive and walking around.’
‘Think you said people are just walking outside the airplane right now?’ the controller replied.
‘Yes,’ answered the pilot of United Flight 885. ‘Some people, it looks like, are struggling.’
When the plane hit the ground, oxygen masks dropped down, said Xu Da, a product manager at an Internet company in Hangzhou, China, who was sitting with his wife and teenage son near the back of the plane.
When he stood up, he said he could see sparking — perhaps from exposed electrical wires.
He turned and could see the tail where the galley was torn away, leaving a gaping hole through which they could see the runway. Once on the tarmac, they watched the plane catch fire, and firefighters hose it down.
‘I just feel lucky,’ said Xu, whose family suffered some cuts and have neck and back pain.
In the chaotic moments after the landing, when baggage was tumbling from the overhead bins onto passengers and people all around her were screaming, Wen Zhang grabbed her 4-year-old son, who hit the seat in front of him and broke his leg.
Boeing 777’s ‘fantastic record’ that includes one other crash 18 years ago
The crash of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 in San Francisco on Saturday is only the second major accident for the twin-engine, wide-bodied jet in the 18 years the model has been in service, aviation safety expert said.
The two accidents share a striking similarity – both occurred just about the time the planes were touching down to landing.
The previous accident occurred on Jan. 17, 2008, at London’s Heathrow Airport. In the process of landing, British Airways Flight 28 from China landed hard about 1,000 feet short of the runway and then slid onto the runway.
The impact broke the 777-200’s landing gear. There were 47 injuries, but no fatalities.
An investigation revealed ice pellets had formed in the fuel while the plane was flying at high altitudes, clogging the fuel-oil heat exchanger. As a result, fuel was blocked from reaching both of the plane’s engines. The Rolls-Royce Trent 800 series engines that were used on the plane were fixed afterward to prevent similar problems.
Safety improvements to planes in recent years – better fire-proofing of passenger cabins and reinforcements to fuel systems – may have prevented the San Francisco accident from becoming much worse.
Commonly referred to as the ‘Triple Seven,’ the 777 is a long-range jet designed primarily for extended flights over water. The plane that crashed in San Francisco was coming from Seoul, South Korea.
The 777 had its first flight in 1994 and was introduced into service in 1995. As of last month, Boeing had delivered more than 1,100 of the planes to airlines around the world.
Spotting a hole at the back of the jumbo jet where the bathroom had been, she carried her boy to safety.
‘I had no time to be scared,’ she said.
At the wreckage, police officers were throwing utility knives up to crew members inside the burning wreckage so they could cut away passengers’ seat belts. Passengers jumped down emergency slides, escaping from billowing smoke that rose high above the bay.
Nearby, people who escaped were dousing themselves with water from the bay, possibly to cool burn injuries, authorities said.
By the time the flames were out, much of the top of the fuselage had burned away. Inside The tail section was gone, with pieces of it scattered across the beginning of the runway. One engine was gone, and the other was no longer on the wing.
San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White said the two 16-year-old girls from China who died were found on either side of the plane. Investigators are trying to determine whether they were alive or dead when rescuers reached the scene.
‘What we saw yesterday, most people will never see in their career,’ Hayes-White said.Pilots normally try to land at the target speed, in this case 137 knots, plus an additional five more knots, said Bob Coffman, an American Airlines captain who has flown 777s.
He said the briefing raises an important question: ‘Why was the plane going so slow?’
The plane’s Pratt & Whitney engines were on idle, Hersman said. The normal procedure in the Boeing 777, a wide-body jet, would be to use the autopilot and the throttle to provide power to the engine all the way through to landing.
There was no indication in the discussions between the pilots and the air traffic controllers that there were problems with the aircraft.
Among the questions investigators are trying to answer was what, if any, role the deactivation of a ground-based landing guidance system played in the crash. Such systems help pilots land, especially at airports like San Francisco where fog can make landing challenging.
The Instrument Landing System and Visual Approach Slope Indicator are dependent on the airport, rather than the aircraft, according to the Daily News.
‘You’re tired after a 12-hour flight, so it’s nice having all these extra things telling you, “Hey, I’m exactly where I need to be”,’ Kirk Koenig, a pilot, said.
Without them, a pilot has to rely on an inflight computer, Mr Kirk, the president of Expert Aviation Consulting, said.
‘We think there was no engine defect,’ airline president Young-doo Yoon said at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, on Sunday.
Four pilots – all South Koreans – were on board the plane and they rotated on a two-person shift during the flight, according to The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in South Korea.
The two pilots behind the controls at the time of crash were Lee Jeong-min and Lee Gang-guk.
Yoon Young-doo said the pilots were ‘skilled’. Three had logged more than 10,000 hours each of flight time, while the fourth had put in almost that much time, he added.
While the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident, said it’s too early to identify the cause, they are not ruling out ‘pilot error’ in the horrific crash.
‘We have not determined what the focus of this investigation is yet,’ chairman Deborah Hersman told USA Today. ‘We will be looking at everything. Everything is on the table at this point. Obviously we have a lot of work to do.’
Debris: Part of the landing gear is left on the runway after Asiana Flight 214 crashed in San Francisco
It emerged on Sunday that the plane’s Glide Path system, which is meant to help planes land in bad weather, was switched off as it made its descent. The weather was dry and clear on Saturday.
Aircraft safety experts said Glide Path was far from essential for routine landings, and it was not unusual for airports to take such landing systems off line for maintenance or other reasons.
‘The pilots would have had to rely solely on visual cues to fly the proper glide path to the runway, and not have had available to them the electronic information that they typically have even in good weather at most major airports,’ said Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, the former US Airways pilot who gained fame with a successful crash landing on the Hudson River in 2009.
‘What that means is that then the automatic warnings that would occur in the cockpit when you deviate below the desired electronic path wouldn’t have been available either. So we don’t know yet if that’s a factor in this particular situation, but that’s certainly something they’ll be looking at.’
Glide Path is a computerized system based at an airport that calculates a plane’s path of descent and sends it to pilots in real time.
San Francisco International has turned off the system for nearly the entire summer on the runway where the Asiana flight crashed, according to a notice from the airport on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Web site. It showed the system out of service June 1-August 22 on runway 28 Left.
Kevin Hiatt, chief executive of the Flight Safety Foundation and a former Delta pilot, said it was common for airports to take instrument landing systems offline for maintenance on clear days. Pilots use several other instruments and visual cues to land in clear conditions, Hiatt said.
‘All of those are more than adequate to fly an aircraft down for a successful landing on the runway,’ he said.
Sullenberger said the San Francisco runway safety area had been increased to avoid short landings.
While the cause of the crash may not be known for months, The LA Times claims its sources say federal authorities are looking into whether the plane flew in too low and scraped the sea wall before landing and causing the tail to come apart.
Aviation safety expert John Goglia wrote in Forbesthat the aircraft could have landed in an unreinforced section of runway pavement and damaged its landing gear after landing short.
He said the plane would have been difficult to control with damaged landing gear.
‘Aerial photos of the crash scene at SFO provide important clues in the debris field – where parts of aircraft are strewn after impact,’ he wrote.
‘The chevrons seen in aerial photos of the runway are used to show pavement areas aligned with the runway that are unusable for landing, takeoff or taxiing.
The following sequence of CNN graphics illustrate how the aircraft hit the lip of the sea wall, precipitating its fatal crash-landing.
‘Debris in that area indicates a significant likelihood that the aircraft landed short.’
Debris began at the sea wall, which divides the airport runway from San Francisco Bay, and stretched for hundreds of feet away from the plane.
While the crash occurred on a day with clear skies, USA Today reports flight crew were aware there was a problem.
Audio recordings of conversations between the airport’s control tower and Flight 214 crew members suggested that those on the ground knew there was some sort of problem, promising that ’emergency vehicles are responding.’
‘We have everyone on their way,’ the air traffic controller said, according to LiveATC.net, a website that provides air traffic control audio, CNN reported.
However, when the plane ditched down near the water, no fire trucks were there to meet the flight, raising questions about the state of radio equipment on board the Boeing 777.
Investigators were due to arrive at San Francisco Airport at about midnight on Saturday to begin the inquiry into what caused the accident.
Under the leadership of Bill English, the team will work with the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft’s manufacturer Boeing and Korea’s Air and Accident Investigation Board.
Boeing referred all inquiries to the NTSB.
NTSB analysts in Washington, D.C., will examine air traffic control records, weather and aircraft maintenance issues, while investigators on site will examine the aircraft, cockpit data recorders, the scene and whether radios were down.
Kevin Darcy, a retired chief investigator for Boeing, said it is highly unusual for a plane’s tail to come off. ‘I just haven’t seen anything like that for years and years and years,’ he told USA Today.
‘There’s no way of knowing if this is the same circumstance, but the last time I saw a situation where the tail came off like that on landing was during the flight testing from a DC-9.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357662/Asiana-San-Francisco-Crash-First-photographs-inside-wrecked-San-Francisco-plane-black-box-reveals-pilots–including-FIRST-training-flight–desperately-tried-abort-landing-just-1-5-seconds-impact.html#ixzz2YRr3VSyi
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