There is no indication that an emergency was declared by pilots on the doomed Asiana Flight 214 which crash-landed at the San Francisco International Airport Saturday, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Investigators want to pinpoint where all the pilots were and what they were doing at all times. During a news conference on Tuesday, Deborah Hersman, NTSB Chairwoman said that at the time of the crash, three of the four pilots were in the cockpit. The fourth was in the cabin. She added that it was not required for all the four pilots to be in the cockpit during landing.
However, according to reports, experienced pilots have stated that most airlines require all the four pilots to be present in the cockpit at the crucial time of landing. Reports say this is the time when something is most likely to go wrong.
Cass Howell, an associate dean at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida said if any of the Asiana pilots “saw something out of parameters for a safe landing,” they should have been compelled to speak up. “There are dozens and dozens of accidents that were preventable had someone been able to speak up when they should have, but they were reluctant to do so for any number of reasons, including looking stupid or offending the captain,” he said. Howell himself is a former Marine Corps pilot.
In the meantime, NTSB said two flight attendants who were thrown out of the plane when it clipped off its wings after hitting a seawall survived and were found on the runway surrounded in debris from the aircraft.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. According to NTSB officials the likely cause is that the plane was too low and two slow as it approached the landing strip.
According to Hersman, both the pilot and co-pilot were landing at the San Francisco International Airport for the first time. The airport is notorious for its difficult landing approach. Also, the pilot at the controls was about halfway through his training on the Boeing 777. The co-pilot who was also acting as a flight instructor was on his first flight in this capacity.
NTSB has cautioned against ruling anyone at fault saying the cause cannot be determined the scene. The investigation will consider all possibilities.
Investigation has focused on the plane’s speed. Reports show that seconds before the plane hit the seawall, pilots realized they were in trouble. Just seven seconds before the accident, someone in the cockpit asked the plane’s speed to be increased after noticing that the plane was flying far slower than the required speed for landing.
Then, a few seconds later the plane’s yoke began to vibrate violently. This is an automated indication that warned pilots that the plane was losing lift and in danger of stall.
Just one and a half seconds before impact, there was a command in the cockpit to abort the landing.
Although no emergency was declared on the doomed Asiana Flight, Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPIs) situated on the runway did warn the pilots of the trouble.
According to reports, PAPIs warned the pilots they were approaching too low. A normal approach would show two red lights and two white ones. A too low approach would show more reds than white. A too high approach show more whites then red. In the case of Asiana Flight 214 when it reached 200 feet, all the PAPIs were red, according to the flight instructor’s testimony.
In the meantime, the parents of the Chinese teen, Ye Meng Yuan, who may have been run over and killed by a fire truck racing to the scene flew into San Francisco International Airport late Monday. They were accompanied by the parents of Wang Lin Jia, the other teen killed in Saturday’s crash.
No Emergency had been declared by the pilots of the Asiana flight.
By Perviz Walji