SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – The flight crew of the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 that crashed at San Francisco Airport couldn’t see the runway just seconds before the accident, given how far the plane was out of position, U.S. investigators said.
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 gave an account of their attempts 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 when the instructor pilot told the control tower that at 500 feet “he realized they were too low.”
“He went to push the throttles forward, but he stated that the pilot had already — the other pilot had already pushed the throttles forward,” Hersman said, outlining the flight’s frantic final seconds before the crash.
The fourth pilot — the relief Captain — was in the cabin and not in the cockpit at the time of the crash.