Sunday, July 7, 2013
Asiana flight crash lands in San Francisco (UPDATED)
So far there have been few details available on casualties from the plane (one report says 40 injuries, some of them critical, with the comments section citing reports of two fatalities), but it appears a lot of passengers were able to slide to safety before the plane caught fire, despite this having been a very hard landing that involved the tail breaking off and the plane apparently spinning around.
Since this is a developing story, I'm including the previous link to the San Francisco Chronicle and to CNN as well as the Huffington Post, all of which tend to update.
The Washington Post is saying that two of the passengers have been reported dead.
The Washington Post says the fatalities were two middle-school girls from China (requiescant in pace, Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia) and that Federal investigators have ruled out mechanical failure (that was quick) and are focusing on pilot error. The Washington Post also has a piece highlighting "South Korean airlines' spotty safety record."
I am normally one of those people who prefers to wait until the facts are out before forming an opinion, but when opinions are being formed before the facts are out, I feel compelled to chime in. It seems awfully fast to rule out a mechanical issue with the plane, before the flight recorders have been analyzed, and the WaPo piece on South Korean carriers' "troubled past" seems like it's meant to be part of a hit piece: What do Korean Airlines accidents have to do with an Asiana Airlines pilot?
The article cites a crash two decades ago and a relatively minor taxiing incident fifteen years ago to conclude that Asiana Airlines has a problem. In the same time period (i.e., 1993 to present) American Airlines experienced more fatal accidents or serious problems, including deaths in 1995, 1999, 2001 (not including the 9/11 hijackings), and 2009 (source).
The hasty conclusion that mechanical error was not at fault and pilot error the likely cause, plus the hit piece, make me wonder if something a tad sinister is going on. This is reportedly the first crash of a Boeing 777, at a time when that company continues to experience some very high-profile problems with its Dreamliner 787 aircraft. The possibility of problems with its high-selling 777 could be a double-whammy that might harm the company.
That's just a thought; I am just a bit perplexed to see those two news items so quickly. I'm also wondering how pilot error could cause the fire on top of the plane.