Asiana Flight 214 was moments from touching down when it got a dire warning that the jet was flying too slowly — and crashed as its inexperienced pilot made a critical mistake while attempting his first landing with the Boeing jet, airline officials said.
Lee Kang-kook, who had clocked only 43 hours with the Boeing 777, was in training to land when he got the warning that the plane could stall — so he gunned the engine at the last moment in a futile attempt to put the plane down safely, officials said.
“It was Lee Kang-kook’s maiden flight to the airport with the jet . . . He was in training. Even a veteran gets training [on a new jet],” a spokeswoman for Asiana Airlines said last night.
Lee tried to abort the touchdown in the final seconds on Saturday but smashed into the runway at San Francisco International Airport.
Flight voice and data recordings revealed the desperate moments before the airliner slammed into the ground, shearing its tail and igniting a fire that burned through its ceiling.
All seemed well with the flight until the final seven seconds, when one of the four veteran South Korean pilots in the Boeing 777 radioed air-traffic controllers asking to increase the jetliner’s speed, authorities said.
Three seconds later, the pilot’s yoke started to rattle — a warning known as a “stick shaker,” indicating he was in danger of stalling, federal aviation authorities said.
At that point, the pilot tried to pull up on the control stick to gain speed, but it was too late.
Fewer than two seconds from the tarmac, the crew called for an emergency aborted landing, said Hersman, the NTSB chief.
As the pilots tried to pull up, the jet’s tail apparently touched the runway’s rocky barrier to the San Francisco Bay and ripped off, sending the plane spinning wildly and bursting into flames.
The local fire department said that one of the teens may have been run over by an emergency vehicle rushing to the scene.
The medical examiner would determine the cause of death.
The worst injuries to survivors included head trauma, spine fractures, paralysis and “road rash” consistent with being dragged. Others suffered abdominal injuries from their seat belts.