SAN FRANCISCO, California – Two people have died, more than 100 have been injured and one is unaccounted for after Asiana Airlines flight 214 from Seoul to San Francisco crashed during a landing at San Francisco International Airport Saturday.
The Boeing 777, with more than 300 passengers on board, appeared to have been too low in its approach to the the airport’s main runway, which extends out into San Francisco Bay.
TV news footage shows crash debris right at the start of the landing strip where it meets the water. The footage also shows the tail section of the aircraft broke off during the failed landing as well as debris scattered across the runway.
The passengers on board the flight included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans and 61 Americans.
Early indications point to the possibility of pilot error as data from the last three minutes of the flight show that the plane may have been too low and descended too quickly on its approach to the runway.
Crash survivor Benjamin Levy spoke with a local NBC station by phone and said the plane appeared to be coming in too low over the water, and the pilot seemed to be trying to gain height just before the aircraft struck the runway.
‘I know the airport pretty well, so I realized the guy was a bit too low, too fast, and somehow he was not going to hit the runway on time, so he was too low… he put some gas and tried to go up again.
‘But it was too late, so we hit the runway pretty bad, and then we started going up in the air again, and then landed again, pretty hard.
‘We got pretty much everyone in the back section of the plane out. When we got out there was some smoke. There was no fire then, the fire came afterward.’
The Asiana flight left Seoul at 5:04 p.m. Korean time and touched down in San Francisco at 11:28 a.m PDT, according to FlightAware, a website that tracks flights. The flight lasted 10 hours and 23 minutes, the site said.
When asked during a news conference if pilot error was a factor in the crash, Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that ‘everything’s on table at this point. We have to gather all the facts before we reach any conclusions.’
Hersman also said that federal investigators are now probing what went wrong and that South Korean officials will also be invited to participate in the crash investigation.
- All have been accounted for on flight according to the SF Fire Chief, after initial reports of one missing.
- According to reports, Asiana has had two fatal crashes over the last 20 years. The Asiana pilot had two decades of experience, including flights into SFO: