The pilot of the Asiana Boeing 777 which crashed in San Francisco told attendants not to begin evacuating passengers in the chaotic immediate aftermath of the accident, air safety officials said.
Deborah Hersman, head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said cabin crew had sought guidance from the cockpit after Saturday’s crash, which left two people dead and more than 180 injured.
Pilots initially told flight attendants not to initiate evacuation procedures, Hersman said.
It was only after cabin staff alerted the cockpit to flames spreading outside the plane that the order was given to begin evacuation.
Hersman suggested that pilots in the cockpit may not have been in a position to spot the fire outside the plane.
She emphasized that once flames were sighted, the evacuation began swiftly — approximately 90 seconds after impact.
Emergency response vehicles arrived on the scene approximately two minutes after the crash and began extinguishing flames three minutes after impact.
Hersman meanwhile said interviews with the plane’s crew had given investigators a vivid portrait of the scene on board the stricken aircraft moments after the crash.
Two emergency slides had inflated inwards inside the cabin, pinning two attendants who needed to be cut free as the evacuation began.
It was not immediately known why the slides had deployed inside the aircraft.