, SAN FRANCISCO, Jul 10 – The flight crew of the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 which crash landed at San Francisco Airport couldn’t see the runway just seconds earlier, given how far the plane was out of position, US investigators said on Tuesday.
With attention focused on whether human error caused the aircraft to slam into the ground, missing the runway, it was also confirmed that the training pilot on board was undertaking his inaugural flight as an instructor.
The crash killed two Chinese students and left more than 180 injured, but given the heavy impact and extent of the damage experts have said it was fortunate that the death toll was not higher.
Three of Asiana Flight 214’s four pilots have now been interviewed, said National Transportation Safety Board chair Deborah Hersman, who is leading the probe, and who described their last ditch attempt to avert disaster.
“The pilot that was sitting in the jump seat, the relief first officer, identified that he could not see the runway… from his seated position. And that the aircraft – the nose was pitched up, so he couldn’t see the runway,” Hersman said.
And the accident happened just seconds later, when at an altitude of only 500 feet the instructor pilot “realized they were too low.”
“He went to push the throttles forward, but he stated that the other pilot had already pushed the throttles forward,” said Hersman, outlining how the crash unfolded.
Investigators previously stated that just 1.5 seconds before the plane smashed into the ground, a member of the flight crew asked to abort the landing, though it was too late to take such action.
The aircraft clipped a seawall and went skidding out of control, breaking up and quickly bursting into flames when one of its engines caught fire.
The fourth pilot – the relief Captain – was in the cabin and not in the cockpit at the time of the crash.