Pilots Tried to Abort Landing Before Crash, N.T.S.B. Says The chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday that pilots of the Asiana Airlines jetliner that crashed a day earlier in San Francisco tried to abort the landing just seconds before the crash. The safety board chairwoman, Deborah Hersman, said Sunday at a briefing that a crew member called for an increase in speed seven seconds before the plane clipped an embankment at the edge of the runway. She said the plane was traveling well below the speed needed to maintain a stable angle of approach. The jetliner’s cockpit recorder included the sounds of an automatic shaking of the control yoke just before the crash, an indication that the plane was about to stall. The device also recorded a pilot’s voice calling for a go-round 1.5 seconds before the crash. While the engines responded normally, the move came too late to prevent the crash, Ms. Hersman said. The plane’s tail section then snapped off, and the plane skidded across the runway and caught fire.
Ms. Hersman’s description of how the plane slowed generally tracks other data showing the jetliner began to descend too fast because it did not have enough airspeed. Data collected by an aviation firm suggested the plane was descending more than four times faster than normal shortly before it crashed. At 800 feet over San Francisco Bay, the plane was descending at 4,000 feet a minute on Saturday, according to data gathered from FlightAware, a company that listens to navigation broadcasts and sells the data to airlines and others. The normal approach profile is 600 to 800 feet a minute. At the briefing, Ms. Hersman focused mainly on whether playoffs 12s for sale the pilots erred while making a series of calculations needed to land. While the pilot should have recognized the abnormally strong descent, the safety board also said Sunday that it was investigating whether construction at the airport �� which had temporarily shut down an electronic system that helps guide pilots to the proper landing slope �� might have played a role in the crash. The glide slope had been out since June, Ms. Hersman said on CBS’s Face the Nation. We’re going to take a look into this to understand it, she said. But what’s important to note is there are a lot of tools that are available to pilots.
The FlightAware data indicated that at 100 feet above the water, the plane was descending at more than 270 feet a minute when it should have been slowing to a rate of a few feet per second. FlightAware’s data is not as precise as the information available to investigators from the plane’s flight data recorder, which the safety board began examining on Sunday. But it provides an indication that in the last moments of the flight, unless there was some as-yet undisclosed mechanical problem, crew members, from their own instrumentation, should have been aware that the plane was descending too fast. Aviation experts said that the pilots, who were both veterans, could have also relied on red and white signal lights on the runway to visually guide the plane to touch down or, if they chose, on the plane’s onboard computers to generate the angle of approach. Witnesses and passengers have described the jetliner as coming in too low and clipping a rocky embankment at the edge of the water just before the runway. The plane’s tail section then snapped off, and the plane skidded across the runway and caught fire. Two passengers were killed, and at least 180 people were injured. The dead passengers were identified on Sunday as two 16-year-old Chinese students on their way to a summer camp.
The students, both women, were believed to have been seated toward the back of the passenger jet, said Yoon Young-doo, the president of Asiana Airlines. Their bodies were found on the runway. Mr. Yoon said Asiana Airlines did not believe there was anything wrong with the Boeing 777, which had been bought in 2006. At least 180 people were injured in the crash. So far, we don’t believe that there was anything wrong with the B777-200 or its engine, he said. He also apologized for the crash, saying, We are deeply sorry for causing the trouble. The flight had originated in Shanghai and left Seoul, South Korea, for San Francisco, the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said. The two students, the Chinese news media reported, were from Zhejiang Province in eastern China. Of the 291 passengers on board, 141 were jordan 12 playoffs Chinese, including at least 70 students and teachers on their way to summer camps, the Chinese news media reported.
Asiana Airlines identified the two students as Ye Meng Yuan and Wang Lin Jia. They were among 30 high school students from the town of Jiangshan who were planning to attend a 15-day English language program at California universities, the Oriental Morning Post, a Shanghai newspaper, reported. The school has been organizing similar summer programs for more than a decade for students who typically pay about $5,000 to attend, the newspaper reported. Five teachers were accompanying the students. Another 30 students and 6 teachers from Shanxi Province in northern China were also aboard the flight, Xinhua, China’s official news service reported. One teacher from that group was reported injured. Ms. Wang’s parents were waiting with a group of other parents from their daughter’s school when they were told of her death. They burst into tears, according to Zhejiang Online, a news Web site. In San Francisco on Sunday, federal investigators continued piecing together the events that led up to and caused the crash. Ms. Hersman of the safety board said that there was no indication of a criminal act, but that it was too early to determine what went wrong.
Everything is still on the table, she said on NBC’s Meet the Press. When the Asiana flight crashed, some of the normal landing aids on the airfield were out of service, but the landing should have been well within the capabilities of the airplane and the crew, aviation experts said. Even if it was the least experienced crew in Asiana Airlines, the maneuver that led to bugs bunny 8s this crash, on a difficulty scale of 1 to 10, this was a 2 or 3 at the most,” said Oscar S. Garcia, the chairman of InterFlight Global Corporation, a consulting firm. A government official in Washington said that the instrument landing system, which electronically guides a pilot to the runway, had been out of service for several weeks because of construction at the end of the runway. Another system, which uses patterns of red and white lights to visually guide pilots, was in service, the official said. Airlines had been told that the system was out of service, and many carriers, including Asiana, had been landing for weeks on that runway without difficulty, the official said. Air traffic control tapes indicate that the controller cleared the plane for a visual approach, for which the system was not necessary. Still, some experts said that pilots often have little opportunity to practice landings without the aid of such technology, particularly on international flights into large, technologically advanced airports like San Francisco International.
Kirk Koenig, a pilot with a major American carrier, said that before flying into San Francisco International last week, he could not remember the last time he had made a purely visual landing. You don’t always need it, he said, referring to the instrument landing system. But it’s a nice little aid to know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Several dozen people remain at hospitals, though many have been discharged. On Sunday, there were still 19 patients at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, down from a high of 53 on Saturday. Of those, six, including one child, are critically injured, said Rachael Kagan, a hospital spokeswoman. The force of the crash fractured the spines of several passengers, causing paralysis in some cases, Dr. Margaret Knudson, the hospital’s chief surgeon, said at a news conference. Others, she said, had severe road rash as if they had been dragged. She said doctors had expected to see burns, but that there were few. Of the patients who could speak, she said, all said that they were in the back of the plane when it crashed.