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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

NTSB Concludes Asiana Airlines Flight 214 On-Scene Investigation

By Woodrow Bellamy III

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Monday closed its on-scene investigation into the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport, shifting its focus to a more in-depth analysis of the aircraft's performance and interviews with first responders. 

(Debris from the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 Crash in San Francisco. Photo, courtesy of NTSB.)
Also on Monday, South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said it will open a three-week investigation into the passenger jet crash, the airline's first such crash in 20 years. Asiana's Boeing 777-200ER crashed after its main landing gear struck a sea wall at the airport, as the pilots approached the runway too low and at well below the advised speed of 137 knots, according to NTSB. 
From its on-scene investigation, NTSB determined that an oil tank ruptured upon impact, and a fire occurred within engine number two post-crash.  The fire moved along the outside fuselage skin in an upward pattern. 
Investigators also found that the safety mechanisms built into the 777 performed as intended, as the PA system and escaped path lighting were functioning properly. The landing gear also performed as designed, separating cleanly from the aircraft to lower the impact to onboard passengers.
Out of the 307 onboard passengers, three have died, as two Chinese teenage girls died immediately, and another died from injuries suffered in the crash on Friday. 
Safety officials have also reported on Lee Kang-guk, the pilot who was flying the 777, and how his lack of experience flying the aircraft type might have contributed to the crash. Kang-guk had previously logged about 43 hours flying the 777, although he had extensive experience flying other aircraft types. 
NTSB has also completed its examination of the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder that were recovered from the crash. Last week, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said investigators found no evidence of malfunctioning on the 777's autopilot, flight director or auto-throttle systems. 
During interviews, the Asiana pilots told investigators that they believed the aircraft's auto-throttle system would maintain the required speed throughout approach to the runway, but the plane ended up flying about 40 miles slower than the crew intended, ultimately resulting in the crash.

The board will be providing more investigative updates as they become available, with its final report on the investigation scheduled to be released within the next year.


Related: Safety Officials Investigate Asiana Airlines Flight 214 Crash



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