SAN FRANCISCO – After departing from Shanghai and stopping in Seoul, Asiana Flight 214 makes its final approach into San Francisco International Airport following a 10-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean. A preliminary review of the crash by U.S. investigators turns up the following:
APPROACH PROCEEDS NORMALLY:
Pilot Lee Gang-guk, making his first landing at San Francisco in a Boeing 777, is at the controls. His training instructor, Lee Jeong-min, is the co-pilot. They receive clearance from air traffic control to land without instrument landing system. Visibility is about 10 miles with winds out of the southwest at 7 knots. There are no distress calls or special requests in the air traffic control tapes that captured the discussion between the tower and the Asiana pilots.
At 1,600 feet and 82 seconds before impact, the autopilot is disengaged, a normal procedure. At 1,400 feet and 73 seconds before impact, the plane’s speed is about 170 knots. At 500 feet and 34 seconds before impact, the speed has dropped to 134 knots, just below the optimal landing speed of 137 knots that the pilots believe has been programmed into the “autothrottle.” Lee Jeong-min recognizes the plane is coming in too low and tells Lee Gang-guk to “pull back.”
16 SECONDS OUT:
Plane is at 200 feet and travelling at 118 knots. The Precision Approach Path Indicator that uses red and white lights to tell pilots if they are approaching correctly is all red, indicating the plane is much too low. Lee Jeong-min recognizes the autothrottle isn’t maintaining the proper speed.
8 SECONDS OUT:
At an altitude of 125 feet, the plane is travelling at 112 knots when the throttles begin moving forward.
4 SECONDS OUT:
The stick shaker, a yoke the pilots hold, begins vibrating, indicating the plane could stall.
3 SECONDS OUT:
The plane is travelling at 103 knots, the slowest speed recorded by the flight data recorder. The engines begin increasing power from 50 per cent.
1.5 SECONDS OUT:
From the cockpit comes a call to abort the landing and go around for another try.
The plane, which has increased its speed to 106 knots, clips the seawall at the end of the runway with its landing gear and then its tail, which breaks off. Two flight attendants in the back of the plane are ejected but survive. The plane spins on the runway and slides to a stop. The controller declares an emergency and rescue vehicles rush to the scene.
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© The Associated Press, 2013