BOSTON (CBS) — The possibility of pilot error has become the early focus of the investigation into Saturday’s deadly crash of a South Korean airliner in San Francisco.
Two passengers died and more than 180 were injured.
Boston’s Logan Airport and San Francisco have some similarities.
The runways at both Logan and San Francisco are surrounded by water. But pilots will tell you that is where the similarities end. One pilot told WBZ landing a commercial airliner in San Francisco is far more challenging compared to landing in Boston.
Aviation experts say Asiana Flight 214 came in too low and way too slow before crashing and burning on the runway Saturday. Cockpit alarms may have been sounding. The tail section was found in the seawall. While the pilot had thousands of hours of experience, that fact is he was still learning to fly that type of jet, the Boeing 777.
And Captain Sully Sullenberger, a CBS news analyst, suggests San Francisco is a tough place to land even for experienced pilots.
“There are several aspects which make it unique. San Francisco has earned a “special” designation from the FAA, primarily for the mountainous terrain,” he said.
The FAA tells WBZ some airports earn that “special’ designation because of surrounding terrain, obstructions or complex approaches or departures. WBZ has confirmed Logan Airport does NOT have a “special” designation.
More than a dozen of the California passengers are still in the hospital, some with fractured spines. Many survivors say they can’t believe they made it out.
Eugene Rah was a passenger. “Bang! The plane just hit the ground so hard!”
Two teenagers from China were killed.
Investigators say one of the girls may have survived the crash but might have been hit by a rescue vehicle on the runway.
Deborah Hersman is the Chairwoman of the National Transportation Board.
“We are looking at this. We consider this a very serious issue, the coroner has not yet made a determination.”
Investigators are also looking at surveillance video to determine if the teenager was run over but so far, the video is inconclusive.
A commercial airline pilot told WBZ landing in San Francisco can require a rapid descent after passing over the mountains or “slam dunk” as he described it.
By comparison landing in Boston calls for a more gradual, step down or stair case approach.