Though the investigation is ongoing, pilot error may be emerging as one of the main causes of the Asiana flight crash Saturday morning at San Francisco International Airport.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m., Asiana flight OZ214, a non-stop flight from Incheon International Airport, slammed into the runway at the Northern California airport, the Boeing 777 aircraft skidding down the tarmac, injuring 180 people and resulting in two fatalities. A total of 291 passengers were aboard the plane.
According to the airline, 48 passengers were still being treated at local hospitals on Monday.
Soon after, the National Transportation Safety Board sent a "go-team," which included experts in structures, systems and operations, to look at what went wrong with the plane. Asiana also sent 12 support staff and eight governmental inspectors to San Francisco on Sunday. Family members of passengers continued to fly to San Francisco on Asiana flights.
The airport is currently experiencing a rash of delays and canceled flights. The airport's left runway, where the crash occurred, will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
According to reports, the pilot who actually landed the plane was a veteran pilot who only had 43 hours of flight experience operating the Boeing 777 aircraft. The pilot was making his first 777 landing at SFO. Reporters have also learned the senior pilot overseeing the flight happened to be on his first flight as a certified flight trainer.
From what the NTSB has gathered from the flight data recorder, the pilots weren't traveling fast enough upon approach. A little more than one second before the 777's tail hit the ground, causing it to separate from the plane, the pilots called for a go-around maneuver.
The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a statement that seemingly releases the airport from playing a role in the accident. The guide slope system navigation tool was out of service at the airport, but landing the plane shouldn't have been a problem, as the pilot was cleared for approach under visual flight rules, FAA said. The system is not necessary when planes are landing under visual rules.
"The Department of Transportation and the FAA are working closely to assist the NTSB with its investigation. Our thanks go to today's first responders and our thoughts and prayers go out to the passengers and crew of Asiana Flight 214 and their families," FAA said in a joint statement with DOT.
The Boeing 777 has a safe flight record, and this is the only fatal accident that has occurred since the plane was introduced in 1995. A Boeing team is onsite in San Francisco to provide technical assistance, but Boeing has directed all inquiries to the NTSB.
The carrier is providing passage from Korea for family members of victims and government officials.
"Asiana Airlines has established emergency response centers to ascertain the cause of this crash and to look after injured passengers and contact their families," the carrier said in a statement. "Asiana continues to actively cooperate with all Korean and US governmental institutions in the ongoing investigation." - Jon Ross