J By the time the pilot of Asiana Airlines flight 214
realized there was something wrong with his landing approach Saturday, he was
unknowingly seven seconds away from impact.
At that point, the flight crew realized they needed a lot more speed to reach their 137-knot target. Three seconds later, the "stick shaker" activated, warning them of an imminent plane stall.
A second-and-a-half later, they fully understood what was happening. They were going too low, too slow.
They requested a do-over at the landing. Another second-and-a-half later, it was all for naught.
The tail of the Boeing 777 jetliner slammed into the sea wall of San Francisco International Airport's runway 28L, shearing
off the tail section, sending the plane into a turn and jettisoning two teenage girls traveling from China, who were the fatalities in a crash that injured dozens of passengers.
National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Deborah Hersman offered this narrative during a Sunday press conference based on the preliminary examination of cockpit voice and flight recorders from the doomed flight.
Before the last-second request for a "go round," or second landing, Hersman said, there was no indication in the recordings that the aircraft was having any problems before it crashed Saturday.
With respect to the plane's targeted landing speed of 137 knots, it was traveling "significantly below" that as it approached the runway.
not talking about a few knots" under, she said.
She added the voice recorder showed no discussion of any aircraft anomalies or concerns with approach until seconds before the plane crashed and caught fire.
When the pilot finally did try to pull up, the throttle and engine responded normally, according to the data examined by the NTSB.
Despite the preliminary findings hinting at pilot error, Hersman said no conclusions would be made in day of what is expected to be a months-long
"Everything's on the table right now," she said. "It's too early to rule anything out."
(c)2013 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
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