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NTSB eyes lack of landing tool in air crash

By Joan Lowy & Terry Collins

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:18 a.m. HST, Jul 07, 2013


An aviation safety official says accident investigators are looking into what role the shutdown of a key navigational aid may have played in the San Francisco plane crash.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said the glide slope — a ground-based aid that helps pilots stay on course while landing — had been shut down since June.

She says pilots were sent a notice warning that the glide slope wasn't available.

Hersman tells CBS' "Face the Nation" that there were many other navigation tools available to help pilots land. She says investigators will be "taking a look at it all."

The Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 slammed into the runway on Saturday morning, breaking off its tail and catching fire before slumping to a stop that allowed the lucky ones to flee down emergency slides into thick smoke and a trail of debris. Firefighters doused the flames that burned through the fuselage with foam and water, and police officers on the ground threw utility knives up to crew members so they could cut the seat belts of those who remained trapped as rescue crews removed the injured.

By the time the 307 people on the flight all were accounted for several hours later, two Chinese teenage girls found outside wreckage had been confirmed dead and 182 transported to area hospitals. But as harrowing as the crash was, survivors and witnesses were just as stunned to learn that the toll of deaths and serious injuries wasn't much higher.

"When you heard that explosion, that loud boom and you saw the black smoke...you just thought, my god, everybody in there is gone," said Ki Siadatan, who lives a few miles away from San Francisco International Airport and watched the plane's "wobbly" and "a little bit out of control" approach from his balcony. "My initial reaction was I don't see how anyone could have made it."

Vedpal Singh, who was sitting in the middle of the aircraft and survived the crash with his family, said there was no forewarning from the pilot or any crew members before the plane touched down hard and he heard a loud sound.

"We knew something was horrible wrong," said Singh, who suffered a fractured collarbone and had his arm was in a sling.

"It's miraculous we survived," he said.

A visibly shaken Singh said the plane went silent before people tried to get out anyway they could. His 15-year-old son said luggage tumbled from the overhead bins. The entire incident lasted about 10 seconds.

Another passenger, Benjamin Levy, 39, said it looked to him that the plane was flying too low and too close to the bay as it approached the runway. Levy, who was sitting in an emergency exit row, said he felt the pilot try to lift the jet up before it crashed, and thinks the maneuver might have saved some lives.

"Everybody was screaming. I was trying to usher them out," he recalled of the first seconds after the landing. "I said, 'Stay calm, stop screaming, help each other out, don't push.'"

San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White said the two who died were found on "the exterior" of the plane. "Having surveyed that area, we're lucky that there hasn't been a greater loss," she said.

Airport spokesman Doug Yakel said 49 people were critically injured and 132 had less significant injuries.

The flight originated in Shanghai, China, and stopped over in Seoul, South Korea, before coming to San Francisco, airport officials said. The airline said there were 16 crew members aboard and 291 passengers. South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said that the plane's passengers included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 61 Americans, three Canadians, three from India, one Japanese, one Vietnamese and one from France, while the nationalities of the remaining three haven't been confirmed. Thirty of the passengers were children.

Chinese state media identified the dead as two 16-year-old girls who were middle school students in China's eastern Zhejiang province. China Central Television cited a fax from Asiana Airlines to the Jiangshan city government. They were identified as Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia.

At least 70 Chinese students and teachers were on the plane heading to summer camps, according to education authorities in China.

Asiana President Yoon Young-doo said at a televised news conference that it will take time to determine the cause of the crash. But when asked about the possibility of engine or mechanical problems, he said he doesn't believe they could have been the cause. He said the plane was bought in 2006 but didn't provide further details or elaborate. Asiana officials later said the plane was also built that year.

Yoon also bowed and offered an apology, "I am bowing my head and extending my deep apology" to the passengers, their families and the South Korean people over the crash, he said.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye offered her condolences to the families of passengers and said her government would make all necessary efforts to help handle the aftermath, according to her spokeswoman Kim Haing.

"I offer my deep condolences to the families of the passengers who suffered from the unexpected Asiana plane crash," South Korean President Park Geun-hye said, according to her spokeswoman Kim Haing. Park said that the South Korean government will make all necessary efforts to help handle the aftermath, according to Kim.

Based on witness accounts in the news and video of the wreckage, Mike Barr, a former military pilot and accident investigator who teaches aviation safety at the University of Southern California, said it appeared the plane approached the runway too low and something may have caught the runway lip — the seawall at the end of the runway.

San Francisco is one of several airports around the country that border bodies of water that have walls at the end of their runways to prevent planes that overrun a runway from ending up in the water.

Since the plane was about to land, its landing gear would have already been down, Barr said. It's possible the landing gear or the tail of the plane hit the seawall, he said. If that happened, it would effectively slam the plane into the runway, he said.

Noting that some witnesses reported hearing the plane's engines rev up just before the crash, Barr said that would be consistent with a pilot who realized at the last minute that the plane was too low and was increasing power to the engines to try to increase altitude. Barr said he could think of no reason why a plane would come in to land that low.

Kate Belding was out jogging just before 11:30 a.m. on a path across the water from the airport when she noticed the plane approaching the runway in a way that "just didn't look like it was coming in quite right."

"Then all of a sudden I saw what looked like a cloud of dirt puffing up and then there was a big bang and it kind of looked like the plane maybe bounced (as it neared the ground)," she said. "I couldn't really tell what happened, but you saw the wings going up and (in) a weird angle."

Four pilots were aboard 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 who piloted the plane at the time of crash were Lee Jeong-min and Lee Gang-guk.

Yoon, the Asiana president, described the pilots as "skilled," saying three had logged more than 10,000 hours each of flight time. He said the fourth had put in almost that much time, but officials later corrected that to say the fourth had logged nearly 5,000 hours. All four are South Koreans.

Asiana is a South Korean airline, second in size to national carrier Korean Air. It has recently tried to expand its presence in the United States, and joined the Star Alliance, which is anchored in the U.S. by United Airlines.

The 777-200 is a long-range plane from Boeing. The twin-engine aircraft is often used for flights from one continent to another because it can travel 12 hours or more without refueling.

The most notable accident involving a 777 occurred on Jan. 17, 2008 at Heathrow Airport in London. British Airways Flight 28 landed hard about 1,000 feet short of the runway and slid onto the start of the runway. The impact broke the 777-200's landing gear. There were 47 injuries, but no fatalities.

___

Lowy reported from Washington, D.C. Associated Press writers Jason Dearen and Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco, Scott Mayerowitz in New York, Pauline Arrillaga in Phoenix, Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, and Louise Watt in Beijing contributed to this report.







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allie wrote:
scary
on July 6,2013 | 09:42AM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
Its just not safe anymore in San Fran. What is happening there is worse than the "West Side"
on July 6,2013 | 12:06PM
aomohoa wrote:
LOL!
on July 6,2013 | 01:04PM
honopic wrote:
Sierra Tango Foxtrot Uniform.
on July 6,2013 | 01:28PM
UhhDuhh wrote:
Lima Mike Foxtrot Alpha Oscar!
on July 6,2013 | 01:51PM
eoe wrote:
Delta - Bravo Alpha Golf
on July 6,2013 | 02:37PM
Skyler wrote:
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...
on July 6,2013 | 08:44PM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
This is why you listen to safety demonstrations and pay attention to your flight attendants. They are there to help you survive...not serve you drinks.
on July 6,2013 | 11:17AM
RichardCory wrote:
Thanks, mom.
on July 6,2013 | 11:26AM
Dawg wrote:
Don't forget the food. Very important stuff.
on July 6,2013 | 01:10PM
Skyler wrote:
Only if you have a credit card - or sit in First Class. All others are lucky to get peanuts & water.
on July 6,2013 | 08:45PM
8082062424 wrote:
This is why i hate to fly.
on July 6,2013 | 11:41AM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
Yeah, me too. Im gonna take a slow boat from now on. At least with a boat you only have to worry about hitting ice bergs, being taken over by pirates, or taking a week that a plane would be able to complete in a 5 hour period. And lord only knows the likelyhood of a plane crash is a meer fraction of a risk you run just driving your car. But yeah, oh how I hate to fly. NOT!
on July 6,2013 | 12:11PM
aomohoa wrote:
So just let your fear paralyze you and live in a bubble. I prefer to enjoy life. There is rish in everything you do.
on July 6,2013 | 01:05PM
RichardCory wrote:
Mmmmm, delicious rish. I need to cook me up another pot of that someday.
on July 6,2013 | 03:44PM
8082062424 wrote:
i do not live in a bubble or let it control me. i take a pill have a nice drink and sleep most of the flight. i go to Vegas twice a year
on July 6,2013 | 04:40PM
atilter wrote:
no? take a pill? sleep? sounds much like ritualistic and highly repetitive skill making "good" choices to quell the unpleasantries of traveling to "lost wages"! very good decisions on those choices to enjoy/control your "bubble" existence! my compliments!
on July 7,2013 | 10:08AM
localgirl2 wrote:
Assume you don't swim much either?
on July 6,2013 | 03:59PM
engineersoldier wrote:
Does not look good for the pilot, but good for the attendants.
on July 6,2013 | 11:49AM
primowarrior wrote:
It looks like some people actually grabbed their luggage during evacuation. Sheesh.
on July 6,2013 | 02:38PM
hikine wrote:
According to one passenger who was sitting in the back the plane was landing too low and the pilot attempted to gun the engine for more lift. The maneuver probably aided in survival. Looks like it hit the sea wall first.
on July 6,2013 | 03:40PM
localgirl2 wrote:
Thank you Lord for saving the majority of those on board this flight!! Korea has a very strong Christian presence.
on July 6,2013 | 03:54PM
hikine wrote:
The plane originally came from Shanghai and picked up more people in South Korea before going on to SFO
on July 7,2013 | 12:41AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
There are about two deaths worldwide for every 100 million passengers on commercial flights

An astonishing record of success. Unbelievably good.


on July 6,2013 | 04:19PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Impt point
on July 6,2013 | 11:52PM
cojef wrote:
TV accounts indicate that some repair work are being done to the landing area and the electronic glide path landing instruments at the airport was turned off until the latter part of the month, and although visual landing conditions were adequate, the 777 appeared to approach the runway over water at a lower level than normal and then altered its angle of attack to a steeper profile. The approach angle caused the tail section to smack the jetty, thus was off mark, and a long ways to the cheveron markers which indicate the start of an ideal and safe landing target. Depth of perception over water is vastly different than on land and may have caused the pilot to approach the landing target at lower level than 777's protocols demanded.
on July 6,2013 | 05:12PM
Skyler wrote:
"It's miraculous we survived" Yes, it was. Freaking scary stuff.
on July 6,2013 | 08:43PM
mitt_grund wrote:
Suppose the reason most of these comments are comedic is because the bulk of the passengers were Chinese and Korean. Only 61 Americans on board, and they were safe.
on July 7,2013 | 07:00AM
atilter wrote:
other accounts/articles say the specific technology to aid pilots during fog and other such inclement weather used by the airport has been OFF since june. they say the normal procedure is to turn the technology off on clear days so maintenance can be done. okay - but here is my view - GENERALLY in our present culture and scheme of social progressions, more and more tech advances are making things much easier for what many may consider normal logical and physical activity processes. people and students are becoming more dependent upon this HIGH TECH AIDS that they are LOSING THEIR BASIC ABILITIES TO ACCOMPLISH TASKS. more students no longer have the basic the reasoning tools that were needed to survive. soon driving cars will be a non-activity requiring no personal intervention - the entire process will be done for them. many can no longer understand the logical steps by which simple math deduction is accomplished by calculators. they don't understand the logical steps involved in algebraic sequences - because they don't need to. fast forward - the pilots (and many other careers) seem to following same trend. what was meant to be a safety aide and fall-back in emergencies are now becoming common-place, a normal every-day-activity dependency requiring less practice in logical/mechanical actions and deductive and /or inductive reasoning.
on July 7,2013 | 10:12AM
LeeFamily wrote:
As the media reports glideslope ILS at SFO was offline. This is eerie reminder of 1997, similar thing occurred over Guam. Then, Korean Air 801 facing poor visibility and glidescope ILS being offline, slammed into a mountain, few miles short of the airlines. I wonder what was learned from that incident.
on July 7,2013 | 08:30AM
inverse wrote:
Usually when stuff like this happens, it requires a chain of events to combined with each other for it to occur. Visibility was clear and the standard is for visual landing which would normally be all that is needed EXCEPT if you are pilots who are based in Asia and might not land in SF airport on a regular basis like most US based carriers that land in/out of SF. In that case the glide slope might have given these South Korean airline pilots an additional landing aid, that might have made the difference between crashing and landing without incident. From the story, no question these South Korean pilots had thousand of hours of flight time and very experienced HOWEVER how many landings have they made at SF airport? The other puzzling question is why ONLY 2 16 year old girls die in this crash and everyone else survives? Where they so unlucky that in the hard landing only they were killed by blunt force trauma landing itself which does not make sense or during the time the plane came to a stop, when passengers where trying to leave the plane exits, these two young girls panicked or did not understand the directions in English on how to leave the airplane and instead stayed in their seats and was later overcome by toxic smoke and died while everyone else was able to safely leave the airplane? Given that the most survived the crash with only minor injuries, the major lawsuit that deserves million dollar settlement are the two girls who died. Barring mechanical error of the Boeing 777, just preliminary info would give 60% fault of pilot error and the airline company and 40% fault for San Francisco airport for not having their glide slope aid operational that has not been working since June. No excuse for such a busy airport like SF to not fix their safety equipment immediately. A solid argument could be made that if the glide slope was functional at the time the S Korean airline landed, this crash and subsequent death of two girls would not have occurred.
on July 7,2013 | 08:31AM
serious wrote:
I left my comment below, but the same thing happened on Guam with another Korean airliner. Pilots don't do enough hand flying.
on July 7,2013 | 09:33AM
ttrangnn wrote:
"inverse" below is correct pilots land manually but you need technology to assist also did they know about the runways at SF? anyway, airplanes are the most technologically advanced piece of engineering out there today you're by far more likely to die in a car than in a plane as the plane has every thought out safety feature allowable
on July 7,2013 | 09:01AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Hersman tells CBS' "Face the Nation" that there were many other navigation tools available to help pilots land. Right, and one of them is called EYES. It was daytime, the visibility was good and the cockpit crew certainly should have seen they were too low and short of the runway. I believe the cause was pilot error.
on July 7,2013 | 09:17AM
serious wrote:
The glide slope was out on the ILS approach system. It was in the NOTAMS before they took off. Same thing that happened in Guam when a Korean Air crashed without a glide slope and that was also in the NOTAMS. Pilots don't hand fly much anymore, it's all automatic. Remember Air France???? They have to get back to the old needle, ball and airspeed!!!
on July 7,2013 | 09:30AM
atilter wrote:
other accounts/articles say the specific technology to aid pilots during fog and other such inclement weather used by the airport has been OFF since june. they say the normal procedure is to turn the technology off on clear days so maintenance can be done. okay - but here is my view - GENERALLY in our present culture and scheme of social progressions, more and more tech advances are making things much easier for what many may consider normal logical and physical activity processes. people and students are becoming more dependent upon this HIGH TECH AIDS that they are LOSING THEIR BASIC ABILITIES TO ACCOMPLISH TASKS. more students no longer have the basic the reasoning tools that were needed to survive. soon driving cars will be a non-activity requiring no personal intervention - the entire process will be done for them. many can no longer understand the logical steps by which simple math deduction is accomplished by calculators. they don't understand the logical steps involved in algebraic sequences - because they don't need to. fast forward - the pilots (and many other careers) seem to following same trend. what was meant to be a safety aide and fall-back in emergencies are now becoming common-place, a normal every-day-activity dependency requiring less practice in logical/mechanical actions and deductive and /or inductive reasoning.
on July 7,2013 | 10:09AM
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