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Asiana pilot was making his first Boeing 777 landing at SFO

  • An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 from Seoul lays on the runway at San Francisco International Airport after it crashed on Saturday, July 6, 2013. ((Conner Jay/Press Democrat))

SAN FRANCISCO — The pilot at the controls of an Asiana plane that crashed landed was guiding a Boeing 777 into the San Francisco airport for the first time, and tried but failed to abort the landing after coming in too slow to set down safely, aviation and airline officials said Sunday.

It was unclear if the pilot's inexperience with the aircraft and airport played a role in Saturday's crash. Officials were investigating whether the airport or plane's equipment could have also malfunctioned.

Also Sunday, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said he was investigating whether t one of the two teenage passengers killed Saturday actually survived the crash but was run over by a rescue vehicle rushing to aid victims fleeing the burning aircraft. Remarkably, 305 of 307 passengers survived the crash and more than a third didn't even require hospitalization. Only a small number were critically injured.

Plane Crashes At SFO

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Deborah Hersman, head of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the slow speed of Flight 214 in the final approach triggered a warning that the jetliner could stall, and an effort was made to abort the landing but the plane crashed barely a second later.

At a news conference, Hersman disclosed the aircraft was traveling at speeds well below the target landing speed of 137 knots per hour, or 157 mph.

“We're not talking about a few knots,” she said.

Hersman described the frantic final seconds of the flight as the pilots struggled to avoid crashing.

Seven seconds before the crash, pilots recognized the need to increase speed, she said, basing her comments on an evaluation of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders that contain hundreds of different types of information on what happened to the plane. Three seconds later, the aircraft's stick shaker — a piece of safety equipment that warns pilots of an impending stall — went off. The normal response to a stall warning is to boost speed and Hersman said the throttles were fired and the engines appeared to respond normally.

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