Aviation

The first fatal crash of a Boeing 777

July 6, 2013, seven years old Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200ER with registration number HL7742 crashed on final approach to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Of the 307 passengers and crew members, three were killed and 49 were seriously injured. This accident was the first disaster of a Boeing Triple Seven since it entered service in 1995.

The flight from ICN to SFO takes almost 11 hours. Image: GCmaps

On July 6, 2013, Asiana Airlines Flight OZ214 departed Incheon International Airport (ICN) at 17:04 KST, 34 minutes after its scheduled departure time. After an uneventful crossing of the Pacific Ocean, the plane was scheduled to land in San Francisco at 11:04 a.m. PDT. At the time of approach, SFO was reporting winds of 6-7 knots with visibility of ten plus miles.

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The plane was piloted by a pilot trained on a Boeing 777

An instructor pilot sat in the right seat, and a pilot in training on a Boeing 777 operated from the left seat. The back seat was occupied by a spare first officer. The pilot flying the plane had 9,700 hours of flight time and this was his tenth training session on the Boeing 777.

A month earlier, the vertical guidance system (glide) of the instrument landing on runway 28L was taken out of service, and the pilots were given a notice. When the ILS went out of service, a precision approach to runway 28L was not available.

An overhead view of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 after the crash at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). photo:
NTSB via Wikimedia Commons.

Operating the controls under the supervision of the instructor in the right seat, the pilot in command of the aircraft was cleared to land on runway 28L and told to maintain a speed of 180 knots. With the landing gear down and flaps set at 30 degrees, the target threshold speed was 137 knots. At 1,600 feet, the autopilot was disengaged and the airplane descended 1,400 feet at 170 knots, slowing to 149 knots at 1,000 feet.

At 500 feet, the speed dropped to 134 knots, three knots below the planned 137 knots. At 200 feet, the aircraft’s speed dropped further to 118 knots. The instructor pilot said he observed four red PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator lights – lights near the runway that give pilots a visual indicator of their aircraft’s position relative to the correct glide path for the runway) and determined that the automatic the gas did not maintain the correct speed. Eight seconds before impact, the throttles were moved forward and one of the crew members called for more speed.


Then someone in the crew called for a break for the second lap, but it was too late. Part of the landing gear hit the embankment. The aircraft spun 360 degrees to the left before coming to rest 2,400 feet to the left of runway 28L. The disaster was compounded by the fact that the pilot who was flying the plane inadvertently disabled the automatic speed control.

NTSB investigation

The NTZB determined that as soon as it was apparent that the aircraft was below the acceptable glide path and airspeed, a go-around should be performed. The NTSB also noted the following contributing factors to the crash:

  1. In its documentation, Boeing failed to describe the complexities of the 777s autothrottle and autopilot systems.
  2. Nonstandard crew communication and coordination when using autothrottle and autopilot flight control systems.
  3. Insufficient pilot training for planning and performing visual landings.
  4. Inadequate monitoring, supervision and instruction of the pilot in control of the aircraft by the instructor pilot.
  5. Fatigue and reduced performance after an almost 11-hour flight.


Asiana promised to work harder

After the crash, SFO was closed for five hours and incoming planes were diverted to other nearby airports. Two weeks later, Asiana Airlines announced that it would cancel flights 214 and 213 and operate new flights between ICN and SFO as OZ212 and OZ211. The Korean airline also said it would improve training for pilots learning to fly new types of aircraft and work to improve crew communication and fatigue management.

https://simpleflying.com/asiana-flight-214-crash-story/ The first fatal crash of a Boeing 777

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