Travelers at CHS airport not worried about Asiana crash - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Travelers at Charleston International not worried about Asiana crash

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By JASON DEAREN and JOAN LOWY
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP/WCIV) - A federal safety official said the cockpit voice recorder from Asiana Airlines Flight 214 showed the jetliner tried to abort its landing and come around for another try 1.5 seconds before it crashed at San Francisco airport.

National Transportation Safety Board chief Deborah Hersman said at a news conference Sunday the recorder also showed there was a call to increase airspeed roughly two seconds before impact.

Before that, she said, there was no indication in the recordings that the aircraft was having any problems before it crashed Saturday, killing two passengers and injuring scores of others.

Investigators took the flight data recorder to Washington, D.C., overnight to begin examining its contents for clues to the last moments of the flight, officials said. They also plan to interview the pilots, the crew and passengers.

Since the crash, clues have emerged in witness accounts of the planes approach and video of the wreckage, leading one aviation expert to say the aircraft may have approached the runway too low and something may have caught the runway lip - part of a seawall at the foot of the runway.

San Francisco is one of several airports around the country that border bodies of water that have walls at the end of their runways to prevent planes that overrun a runway from ending up in the water.

Since the plane was about to land, its landing gear would have already been down, said Mike Barr, a former military pilot and accident investigator who teaches aviation safety at the University of Southern California.

It's possible the landing gear or the tail of the plane hit the seawall, he said. If that happened, it would effectively slam the plane into the runway.

Noting that some witnesses reported hearing the plane's engines rev up just before the crash, Barr said that would be consistent with a pilot who realized at the last minute that the plane was too low and was increasing power to the engines to try to increase altitude.

Barr said he could think of no reason why a plane would come in to land that low.

"When you heard that explosion, that loud boom and you saw the black smoke ... you just thought, my god, everybody in there is gone," said Ki Siadatan, who lives a few miles away from the airport and watched the plane's "wobbly" and "a little bit out of control" approach from his balcony.

"My initial reaction was I don't see how anyone could have made it," he said.

 

Passengers in Charleston say crash 'hard to ignore'

Flights at Charleston International Airport are continuing to arrive and depart on schedule. Travelers say the constant news on the San Francisco plane crash is hard to ignore.

"I know I thought about it, but I wasn't drastically scared or felt a huge difference because we've been traveling so much," said Katherine Kaufman of New Orleans.

Kaufman says she has no intentions of stopping her plans because of the crash. Others said they were hesitant to get on board heir flights Sunday morning.

"I definitely gave it thought. I'm nervous flyer to begin with. It was on my mind on both flights that I was on today, but I just decided it's not going to keep me from a wonderful vacation in Charleston," said Doris Sweeney of Kansas City.

She said the crash is just unfortunate.

"Our safety statistics are so good and that seems so unusual," said Sweeney.

Aviation Attorney Mary Schaivo said there is no reason for a professional pilot to be making this kind of mistake.

"There's really no excuse for it. It's not common on modern commercial passenger liners. That's a flight school kind of mistake that you make early on, about your first solo and you don't ever make again," said Schiavo.

Schaivo says in years past Asiana and other Asian airlines have come under scrutiny for a lack of good crew resource management.

Schiavo says the tower should have also been aware of the landing situation and notified the pilots. She adds even though the plane involved in the crash is a Boeing 777, the company should not have any worries.

"For Boeing, this shouldn't mean anything if it was a pilot error. A 777, that's the aircraft that was involved has a great track record," said Schiavo.  

 

Passengers on Asiana flight describe crash, evacuation

Wen Zhang said she could feel the plane's tail hit the ground. Baggage was falling around her, people were screaming and the aisle window broke.

Zhang picked up her 4-year-old son, who had hit the seat in front of him and broke his leg. Unhurt, she carried him through the hole where the bathroom was and went out onto the tarmac.

"I had no time to be scared," she said.

Shi Da, a product manager at an Internet company in Hangzhou, China, said he was sitting with his wife and teenage son near the back of the plane. When he felt the plane hit the ground, he said, oxygen masks dropped down.

And when he stood up in a cabin, he could see the tail where the galley was torn away, leaving a gaping hole through which he could see the runway. After escaping, they watched the plane catch fire, and firefighters hose it down. They suffered some cuts and have neck and back pain.

"I just feel lucky," he said. "We are so lucky we sit beside the tail and we can leave the plane in the first place."

By the time the flames were out, much of the top of the fuselage had burned away. The tail section was gone, with pieces of it scattered across the beginning of the runway. One engine appeared to have broken away.

The flight originated in Shanghai, China, and stopped over in Seoul, South Korea, before making the nearly 11-hour trip to San Francisco, airport officials said. The airline said there were 16 crew members aboard and 291 passengers. Thirty of the passengers were children.

San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White said 19 people remain hospitalized, six of them in critical condition.

She said at a news conference outside San Francisco General Hospital the two 16-year-old girls who died were found on either side of the plane near the "front middle." Investigators are determining whether they were alive or dead when rescuers reached the scene.

Hayes-White said first responders told her they saw people at the edge of the bay dousing themselves with water, possibly to cool burn injuries.

San Francisco General Hospital Chief of Surgery Margaret Knudson said at least two people injured that were treated there are paralyzed and two others suffered road rash-type injuries suggesting they were dragged.

She said doctors at the hospital have also seen abdominal and orthopedic injuries and head trauma. Patients with severe abdominal injuries and spinal fractures appear to have suffered them from being thrown forward and back while restrained by seat belts.

South Korean government said the passengers included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 61 Americans, three Canadians, three from India, one Japanese, one Vietnamese and one from France, while the nationalities of the remaining three haven't been confirmed.

Chinese state media identified the dead as two 16-year-old girls from China's eastern Zhejiang province. China Central Television cited a fax from Asiana Airlines to the Jiangshan city government. They were identified as Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia.

At least 70 Chinese students and teachers were on the plane heading to summer camps, according to education authorities in China.

Asiana President Yoon Young-doo said at a televised news conference that it will take time to determine the cause of the crash. But when asked about the possibility of engine or mechanical problems, he said he doesn't believe they could have been the cause.

He said the plane was bought in 2006 but didn't provide further details. Asiana officials later said the plane was also built that year.

Yoon also bowed and offered an apology, "I am bowing my head and extending my deep apology" to the passengers, their families and the South Korean people over the crash, he said.

Four pilots were aboard the plane and they rotated on a two-person shift during the flight, according to The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in South Korea. The two who piloted the plane at the time of crash were Lee Jeong-min and Lee Gang-guk.

Yoon, the Asiana president, described the pilots as "skilled," saying three had logged more than 10,000 hours each of flight time. He said the fourth had put in almost that much time, but officials later corrected that to say the fourth had logged nearly 5,000 hours. All four are South Koreans.

___

Lowy reported from Washington, D.C. Associated Press writers Terry Collins, Terry Chea and Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco, Scott Mayerowitz in New York, Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, and Louise Watt in Beijing contributed to this report.


  • Ava Wilhite

    Email: awilhite@abcnews4.com Reporter Profile




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