Pilot of crashed plane was ‘in training’ to fly Boeing 777
July 8, 2013, San Francisco, Ca. - The pilot of the Asiana plane that crashed at San Francisco International Airport was still in training for the Boeing 777 when he attempted to land the aircraft under supervision on Saturday, the South Korean airline said.
July 8, 2013 By The Chicago Tribune
Lee Kang-kuk was the second most junior pilot of four on board the
Asiana Airlines plane. He had 43 hours of experience flying the
long-range jet, the airline said on Monday.
The plane's crew tried to abort the descent less than two seconds
before it hit a seawall on the landing approach to the airport, bounced
along the tarmac and burst into flames.
The Asiana flight from Seoul to San Francisco, with 16 crew and 291
passengers, included several large groups of Chinese students. Two
teenage Chinese girls on their way to summer camp in the United States
were killed and more than 180 injured in the crash, the first fatal
accident involving the Boeing 777 since it entered service in 1995.
Lee Kang-kuk had been flying since 1994 and is a "very experienced
pilot" with other types of planes, including Boeing 747s, 737s and
A320s, said spokeswoman Lee Hyo-min.
But "he was in training for B777," she said, adding that he had 9,793
hours of flight time. She said he had traveled to San Francisco
International previously, "but with B777, not much."
It was Lee Kang-kuk's first attempt to land a 777 at San Francisco
airport, although he had flown there 29 times previously on other types
of aircraft, said South Korean transport ministry official Choi
She identified the co-pilot as Lee Jung-min, who has logged more than
12,000 flight hours.
"He had lots of experience with the B777," the
spokeswoman said.Asiana confirmed Lee Kang-kuk, in his mid 40s, was in
the pilot seat during the landing. It was not clear whether Lee
Jung-min, the senior pilot, who had clocked up 3,220 hours on a Boeing
777, had tried to take over to abort the landing.
"It's a training that is common in the global aviation industry. All
responsibilities lie with the instructor captain," Yoon Young-doo, the
president and CEO of the airline, told a news conference on Monday at
the company headquarters.
The plane crashed after the crew tried to abort the landing with less
than two seconds to go, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board
said on Sunday.
Information collected from the plane's cockpit voice recorder and
flight data recorder indicated there were no signs of problems until
seven seconds before impact, when the crew tried to accelerate, NTSB
Chairwoman Deborah Hersman told reporters at San Francisco 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.
"Air speed was significantly below the target air speed" of 137
knots, she said. The throttle was set at idle as the plane approached
the airport and the engines appeared to respond normally when the crew
tried to gain speed in the seconds before the crash, she said.
Rescuers may have caused second death
In a tragic twist, the San Francisco Fire Department said one of the
Chinese teenagers may have been run over by an emergency vehicle as
first responders reached the scene.
"One of the deceased did have injuries consistent with those of
having been run over by a vehicle," fire department spokeswoman Mindy
The two, Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, were classmates and friends
from the Jiangshan Middle School in Quzhou, in the prosperous eastern
coastal province of Zhejiang.
They were among a group of 30 students and five teachers from the
school on their way to attend a summer camp in the United States, the
official Xinhua news agency said.
Ye, 16, had an easy smile, was an active member of the student council and had a passion for biology, the Beijing News reported.
"Responsible, attentive, pretty, intelligent," were the words written about her on a recent school report, it added.