Saturday, July 06, 2013

Asiana 777 Crashes at SFO; 2 Dead But Most Survive

Asiana Airlines Flight 214, a Boeing 777 inbound from Seoul, crashed on landing at San Francisco International Airport around 11.30 a.m. Pacific time today.

Photos posted on Twitter of the plane, which lost its tail section, evidently on impact, show many passengers walking away from the crash. More than 40 serious injuries are being reported. Two are reported dead. In all, there were 291 passengers and 16 crew on the plane.

Video taken from a helicopter by a local TV station shows the plane on its belly, its tail section missing and the top of its fuselage open and burned when sections of the plane burst into flames on impact. That video depicts a horrific scene. Somehow, evidently, nearly all passengers got out.

The airport suspended flights for several hours and planes scheduled to arrive at San Francisco were being diverted to Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento. [UPDATE: The airport resumed operations around 4 p.m.]

[UPDATE: Here's just-the-known facts reporting, on the aviation incident Web site Aviation Herald. That report says in part:  "... ATC recordings show the aircraft was on a normal approach and was cleared to land on runway 28L; no emergency services were lined up; all traffic was running normally. During a transmission of tower, shouting in the back of the tower is heard, emergency services began to respond, all aircraft on approach were instructed to go around. The airport was closed. United flight 885, waiting for departure at the hold short line threshold 28L, reported people were walking around both runways, there were a number of people near the numbers of runway 28R, obviously survivors. An observer on the ground reported that the approach of the aircraft looked normal at first, about 5 seconds prior to impact the aircraft began to look low and then impacted the sea wall ahead of the runway..."

Here's a live update link to the San Francisco Chronicle. However, in a true bush-league stunt,  the Chronicle is keeping its main online report behind a pay wall, evidently hoping you'll use the horrible occasion to subscribe. So here's a link to the live reports on the aviation news service Avweb.

Better yet, here's a link to, which is always reliable (and where the comments are usually from informed people).

And here's a Youtube audio of the tower transmissions, indicating that the San Francisco air traffic controllers performed magnificently in handling this emergency and diverting approaching planes.

Meanwhile, some of the usual suspects in the media, like that CNN twit and of course the ever-breathless and invincibly excitable Matt Drudge, are already engaging in that reckless pursuit: Speculating on the cause of the crash before even the basic facts are clear. Speculating on the cause of a crash is  exactly what caused Brazilian media and authorities to make international horses' asses of themselves in the 2006 mid-air collision over the Amazon that killed 154 (I was one of seven who survived), when they rushed to blame the American pilots and criminalize the accident. Speculating and rushing to assign blame in an air crash before facts are known is not only foolish, it's dangerous because it impedes the investigation and works against the interests of aviation safety. Air crashes almost always have multiple causes, some of which may not be apparent or clear for days or weeks after the incident.


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