SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The pilot at the controls of an Asiana plane that crash landed was guiding a Boeing 777 into the San Francisco airport for the first time, and tried but failed to abort the landing after coming in too slow to set down safely, aviation and airline officials said Sunday.
It was unclear if the pilot’s inexperience with the aircraft and airport played a role in Saturday’s crash. Officials were investigating whether the airport or plane’s equipment could have also malfunctioned.
Also Sunday, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said he was investigating whether one of the two teenage passengers killed Saturday actually survived the crash but was run over by a rescue vehicle rushing to aid victims fleeing the burning aircraft. Remarkably, 305 of 307 passengers and crew survived the crash and more than a third didn’t even require hospitalization. Only a small number were critically injured.
Deborah Hersman, head of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the slow speed of Flight 214 in the final approach triggered a warning that the jetliner could stall, and an effort was made to abort the landing but the plane crashed barely a second later.
At a news conference, Hersman disclosed the aircraft was traveling at speeds well below the target landing speed of 137 knots per hour, or 157 mph.
“We’re not talking about a few knots,” she said.
Hersman described the frantic final seconds of the flight as the pilots struggled to avoid crashing.