SEOUL, July 8 Asiana Airlines Inc
said the pilot in charge of landing the Boeing 777 that
crash-landed at San Francisco's airport on Saturday was training
for the long-range plane and that it was his first flight to the
airport with the jet.
"It was Lee Kang-kook's maiden flight to the airport with
the jet... He was in training. Even a veteran gets training (for
a new jet)," a spokeswoman for Asiana Airlines said on Monday.
The plane was travelling "significantly below" its intended
speed and its crew tried to abort the landing just seconds
before it hit the seawall in front of the runway, the U.S.
National Transportation Safety Board said on Sunday.
"He has a lot of experience and previously flown to San
Francisco on different planes including the B747... and he was
assisted by another pilot who has more experience with the 777,"
the spokeswoman said.
Lee, who started his career at Asiana as an intern in 1994,
has 9,793 hours of flying experience, but only 43 hours with the
Boeing 777 jet.
Co-pilot Lee Jeong-min, who has 3,220 hours of flying
experience with the Boeing 777 and a total of 12,387 hours of
flying experience, was helping Lee Kang-kook in the landing, the
National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah
Hersman said Sunday that it was too early to say whether pilot
error or mechanical failure were to blame.
But she said there was no evidence of problems with the
flight or the landing until 7 seconds before impact, when the
crew tried to increase the plane's speed and the plane responded
normally. The control tower was not alerted to any plane issues.
Witnesses said the plane on Saturday appeared to be too low
as it approached the runway, hit the ground before the runway
started and the impact sheared off part of the tail of the plane
and possibly landing gear as well.
Asiana's chief executive said on Saturday that he did not
believe the fatal crash was caused by mechanical failure,
although the carrier refused to be drawn on whether the fault
laid with pilot error.