At a press conference Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said it had interviewed three of the four pilots on the plane, which crash-landed Saturday. Two people were killed and scores were hurt.
Deborah A.P. Hersman, chairwoman of the NTSB, said the training pilot, who served as the leader of the cockpit crew, noticed soon before the crash that the plane was going in too low. The pilot said the crew thought the auto throttle was maintaining speed but it was not. They crew tried to abort the landing but it was too late, she said.
Hersman added that the landing gear and the plane’s tail hit a sea wall dividing the runway from San Francisco Bay. The plane made a 360-degree spin before it came to a stop.
The flight crew was “very cooperative and forthright” with investigators, she added.
Lee Kang-kook was at the controls of the flight. It was his first time landing a Boeing 777 at the San Francisco airport, and with a key part of the airport’s automated landing system not working, he was forced to visually guide the massive jetliner onto the runway.
Officials said Lee and his more-experienced instructor pilot sitting next to him didn’t discuss the predicament. Cockpit voice recordings show that the two didn’t communicate until less than two seconds before the plane struck the sea wall and then slammed into Runway 28L.
Officials said the Asiana jetliner had fallen more than 30 knots below its target landing speed in the seconds before it crashed, even as the crew desperately tried to apply more engine power.