Pilot, Co-Pilot Didn't Talk About Unfolding SF Disaster

Cockpit voice recordings show no communication until seconds before crash
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2013 10:36 AM CDT
Pilot, Co-Pilot Didn't Talk About Unfolding SF Disaster
Fire crews work the crash site of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Saturday, July 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, John Green)

As Asiana Airlines Flight 214 descended toward San Francisco International Airport—too low, too slow, and with a pilot who had never landed a Boeing 777 at the tricky airport before—cockpit voice recordings show that pilot Lee Hang-kook and the co-pilot supervising him, who was more experienced, did not speak to one another until less than two seconds before the plane crash-landed. "There was no discussion of any problems clearly at a time when one was developing. Both pilots should have seen that something was going wrong," says a 34-year veteran pilot and aviation safety expert.

The NTSB will interview both pilots, as well as the two relief pilots that were onboard, specifically investigating what was going on in the cockpit in those final seconds, the Los Angeles Times reports. The plane started falling from its target landing speed when it was 500 feet over the bay; one expert says the pilots should have aborted the landing at that point and taken a "go-around" for a second try. But reluctance to abort is a notorious problem in the airline industry, he notes. Co-pilot Lee Jung-min didn't call for more engine power until the plane was moments from crashing, and didn't call for a go-around until just 1.5 seconds before the crash, when the systems were warning of an impending stall. (More Asiana Airlines stories.)

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