Pilot Error Cited in Asiana Airlines Crash at San Francisco Airport
07/12/2013 // jcreiterlaw // Jonathan C. Reiter // (press release)
An Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea to San Francisco airport, crashed seconds before landing, killing two and injuring hundreds of passengers. The crash occurred on Saturday, July 6, 2013. The pilot, identified as Lee Kang-kook had only 43 hours training in the Boeing 777 jet, and was still in training on the ill-fated flight. As the jet approached the runway for landing, the pilot received a warning that the plane was in danger of stalling due to low approach speed. Three seconds before the crash, the pilot then gunned the engine in a futile attempt to abort the landing. The jet’s tail then crashed into the seawall short of the runway threshold, which caused it to shear off, sending the rest of the jet spinning down the runway.
The National Safety and Transportation Board (NTSB) was on the scene following the accident and was conducting an investigation of the cause of this crash. NTSB spokesperson, Deborah Hersman, stated that the flight and data recorder had been recovered and were being analyzed for the cause of the crash, which appeared to be pilot error. She stated: “the speed of the jet approaching the runway was significantly below the 137 knots required for a safe approach.” A full report from the NTSB is pending at this time.
Two young Chinese schoolgirls were killed in the crash, and at least 181 out of 305 total number of passengers was injured, at least 10 of whom are in critical condition at area hospitals. The possibility exists that a rescue vehicle ran over a 16-year-old girl on the tarmac killing her. Following the crash, the pilot ordered passengers to remain in their seats, which resulted in a 90 second delay in evacuating the airliner. As fuel leaked onto the hot engine, a fire ignited and panic ensued within the jet, as hundreds of passengers ran to the exits. Flight attendants deployed escape slides, which the passengers used to escape the fuselage of the plane.
According to aviation accident attorney, Jonathan C. Reiter, who has handled many aviation accident cases, including commercial airline crashes, this tragic crash appears to have been caused by pilot error. Mr. Reiter stated as follows: “The NTSB is mandated under federal aviation law to investigate the cause of all aviation accidents within the United States. The first part of the investigation is a careful analysis of the flight and data recorders, the so-called “black boxes,” which in this crash has already been retrieved from the plane.”
“From early reports and statements by the NTSB, it is clear that the jet’s approach to the runway was at a speed significantly below the minimum 137 knots required for a safe landing. When the pilot received the warning of dangerously low speed, which is both a physical warning, that is, the throttle starts to shake, and a verbal warning from flight controls on board the plane, he attempted to increase his speed by gunning the engine, but it was too late, and the plane crashed.” As the jet hit the runway, the tail sheared off, and the remainder of the jet spun out of control. When the plane came to a stop, the pilot ordered passengers to remain in their seats for 90 seconds, which may have further added to their injuries, as described by Mr. Reiter, as follows: “A crucial part of the investigation of this crash will involve the rules and procedures for evacuating a jet following a crash. If the pilot’s order for passengers to remain in their seats was a violation of the escape procedures, there will certainly be liability for any injuries that resulted from that delay, including psychological injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) injuries.
Once the fire broke out, which would be only seconds following the fuel contacting a hot engine, any possibility of orderly and proper evacuation of the jet must have been replaced by panic and chaos as over 290 passengers were running for exits and slides.” Mr. Reiter then addressed the injuries that are likely to be seen from a crash of this type, as follows: “There will likely be injuries including head trauma, spinal fractures, many other types of fractures, paralysis, abdominal injuries from seatbelts, and road rash from drag injuries. Added to these types of physical injuries will be the mental anguish and psychological injuries, including PTSD, which will likely be very severe, and will require extensive treatment to resolve. Most injuries from plane crashes are tragically severe and often life-long, including the psychological injuries.”
In the weeks and months to come, the NTSB will conduct its investigation and issue a report that will conclude with the cause of this accident. As a veteran aviation accident attorney, Mr. Reiter stated as follows: “Even at this preliminary point, it is apparent that pilot error was the main factor in this accident, but the NTSB will conduct extensive investigations and interviews with witnesses and analysis of crash videos and photographs, to create a full picture of what factors caused this crash.”
Contact: Jonathan C. Reiter
Address: New York, NY
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