Survivors have recalled the harrowing few minutes after Asiana Airlines Flight 214’s landing gear slammed into a seawall around San Francisco’s airport, setting off a chain of events including a fire, the ejection of flight attendants and a frenzied evacuation.
But what about the minutes before the Boeing 777 crashed?
A day after relaying pilots’ accounts to investigators, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman provided more details Wednesday on what happened in the sky.
One focus has been whether “automatic” controls in the cockpit were working. Even if they weren’t, questions have been raised about whether the pilots recognized that something was wrong quickly enough and did the right thing to fix it.
Moments before touching down, the pilots said they were making horizontal changes to adjust their path and vertical adjustments to affect their altitude. Hersman has said they didn’t notice they were coming into too low until they were about 200 feet above the airport. To put that in perspective, the independent Flight Safety Foundation states that most planes approaching an airport “require… an immediate go-around” — meaning they should not land — if they’re not at the right speed on the right path by the time they’re about 1,000 feet up.