Asiana Flight Traveling Below Recommended Speed Before Crash

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KTLA) — The Asiana Airlines plane that crashed in San Francisco was flying slower than recommended as it approached the runway, National Transportation Safety Board officials announced Monday.

The recommended speed upon approach to the runway is 137 knots (157 mph), Deborah Hersman of the NTSB said.

Asiana Airlines Flight 214 was traveling at approximately 103 knots (118 mph) upon impact, Hersman said.

Investigators said none of the evidence they have found to this point would suggest there was a mechanical failure on the plane.

The pilot was training to fly the Boeing 777, and was making his first descent at San Francisco International Airport with the jet, according to the airline.

However, it was not his first time flying into SFO, nor was it his first time piloting that model of aircraft.

Lee Kang-kuk had flown from Seoul to San Francisco several times between 1999 and 2004, Asiana officials said.

Including the flight on Saturday, he had piloted a Boeing 777 nine times, clocking a total of 43 hours, according to the airline.

He had piloted a total of about 10,000 hours, according to Asiana.

Lee was one of four pilots on board on Saturday who were working in shifts.

All four have been interviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board and South Korean investigators.

The Boeing 777 is capable of landing automatically, but it remained unclear if the plane’s computer or the pilot was handling the attempt.

NTSB officials discouraged speculation about whether the crew bore responsibility, saying the investigation would take months to complete.

The crash happened on Saturday afternoon as the plane, with 307 people aboard, was preparing to land in San Francisco.

Two 16-year-old girls from China were killed, and 182 people were hospitalized. Another 123 people walked away without injuries.

Amateur cell phone video obtained by CNN appears to show the plane’s tail coming in too low, and being clipped off when it hits the sea wall.

The plane then goes out of control, briefly tilting up, before coming to a stop.

Most of the passengers were able to escape before the aircraft erupted into smoke and flames, authorities said.

Flight attendants reported that two evacuation slides on the doors inflated inside the cabin instead of outside, according to the Associated Press.

They reportedly had to use an ax to cut the slides away before exiting the plane.

Meantime, the NTSB on Sunday released some details about the final moments before the crash, based on information from cockpit and flight data recorders.

“No prior distress calls or requests for special support or problems were noted in the air traffic control tapes between the controller and the Asiana crew,” Hersman said.

The recorders showed that the plane was coming in too slow and too low, and that the pilots sped up seven seconds before impact.

At the time, the plane was traveling “significantly below” the target speed of 137 knots, Hersman said.

Four seconds before impact, a stall warning sounded, indicating that plane was about to lose its ability to stay in the air.

The voice recorder apparently showed the pilots tried to abort the landing, calling for a “go-around” just 1.5 seconds before the crash, Hersman said.

The NTSB has ruled out weather as a possible factor in the crash, saying conditions were right for a “visual landing.”

However, investigators were looking into the possibility that airport construction may have played a role.

The construction had temporarily shut off the glide-slope system, which is one of several options that pilots have to help them land safely, officials said.

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