Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of the fatal crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, an accident that killed three people and left almost 50 passengers seriously injured on July 6, 2013.
What happened: Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 flight 214 was meant to arrive at San Francisco International Airport from Seoul when the plane hit a seawall while landing at the airport, causing it to crash, spin out of control and later catch on fire.
Of the plane’s 291 passengers, 49 were seriously injured. Meanwhile, three teenaged Chinese passengers died.
About the deaths: According to reports, one of the teenagers was killed after the plane’s tail broke off due to the crash. Another teenager died around a week after the incident at the hospital.
Meanwhile, the third teenager, identified as 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan, was found dead on the ground after she was reportedly thrown from the back of the plane. Details about her death were up for contention between city officials and the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office.
City officials noted in their report that Ye was already dead when she landed on the ground, but an examination conducted by the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office suggested that she died after being run over twice by responding rescue trucks.
The first in history: Although the Boeing 777 had already been involved in a couple of accidents in the past, the July 2013 accident marked the plane’s first-ever recorded fatal incident since it was rolled out in 1994.
Defending the pilots: In 2014, Boeing’s chief engineer for air-safety investigations, Michelle Bernson, noted in a statement that the fatal crash occurred because of the “flight crew’s failure to monitor and control airspeed, thrust level and glide path on short final approach.” An investigator also claimed during a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing that it was pilot Lee Kang Kuk’s first time landing at San Francisco International Airport at the time of the accident.
Meanwhile, Thomas Haueter, a former director of NTSB’s Office of Aviation Safety who was consulting for Asiana Airlines, defended Lee Kang Kuk and instructor Lee Jung Min by stating that it was not a matter of “lack of pilot training.”
“These guys were extraordinarily well-trained,” he noted. “They get very specific training about flying into San Francisco.”
Lee Kang Kuk reportedly had over 9,680 hours of flight experience with a variety of jets and 43 hours of experience with the Boeing 777 at the time of the crash, while Lee Jung Min, who reportedly had a total of 12,307 total flying hours, had already spent 3,208 hours flying Boeing 777s.
What caused it: In an initial report, Asiana Airlines noted that the “probable cause” of the crash was due to the pilot flying too slow, adding that there were “inconsistencies” in the Boeing 777-200ER’s autothrottle at the time, which contributed to the fatal accident.
An investigation published by the NTSBon June 24, 2014, concluded that the crash was due to a mismanagement of approach and inadequate monitoring of airspeed. The NTSB also said it had found that “the complexities of the autothrottle and autopilot flight director systems, and the crew’s misunderstanding of those systems” were also contributing factors.
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