Boeing 777 crash: Asiana pilot only had 43 flying hours

Asiana Airlines has said that the pilot in charge when one of its jets crashed in San Francisco during the weekend was still undergoing training for the Boeing 777 he was flying.

Lee Kang-kuk, whose name was released for the first time on Monday, was the second most junior pilot of four on board the Asiana Airlines aircraft and had 43 hours experience flying the long-range jet, the airline said on Monday.

plain crash
Total wreck: US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators work at the scene of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash site at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California. Pics/AFP

First attempt
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.

It was Lee’s first attempt to land a 777 at San Francisco, although he had flown there 29 times previously on different types of aircraft, said South Korean transport ministry official Choi Seung-youn. He was 11 flights short of the worldwide standard to get licensed to fly the 777.

Earlier, the ministry said he had accumulated a total of 9,793 flying hours, including his 43 at the controls of the 777.

Two teenage Chinese girls on their way to summer camp in the US were killed and more than 180 injured in the crash.
The plane crashed after the crew tried to abort the landing with less than two seconds to go, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board.

Asiana said Lee Kang-kuk was in the pilot seat during the landing, although it was not clear whether the senior pilot, Lee Jung-min, 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,” said Yoon Young-doo, the president and CEO of the airline.

Information collected from the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder indicated that there were no signs of trouble until seven seconds before impact, when the crew tried to accelerate, added NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman.

Warning shakes
A stall warning, in which the cockpit controls begin to shake, activated four seconds before impact, and the crew tried to abort the landing, Hersman said. “Air speed was significantly below the target air speed of 137 knots,” she said.

The flight was flying to San Francisco with 291 passengers and 16 crew members on board. The passengers included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 64 Americans, three Indians, three Canadians, one French, one Vietnamese and one Japanese citizen.  

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