Asiana airliner San Francisco crash: Local expert gives opinion

James Hobart cannot keep his eyes and ears off the coverage of Asiana Flight 214.

"It appears in this particular case, that it might have been pilot error, but we don't know that yet," he said of recent details released to the public in the early investigation of the crash that took place in San Francisco on Saturday.

Hobart is an aviation safety consultant and former captain of a Boeing 767 airplane for Airborne Express. Flying, he said, is his passion.

He's been trying to figure out what could have caused the Boeing 777 to crash upon landing.

"I know the pilots for Asiana, as with any other airline, are very well trained. They are very well regimented in their procedures," Hobart said.

What Hobart observed so far, and what initial reports from the National Transportation Safety Board indicate, is that the flight crew got too low and went too slow for the conditions at the time of landing.

National Transportation Safety Board chief Deborah Hersman said at a news conference Sunday the recorder showed the crew called to abort the landing about 1.5 seconds before the crash as a result of that.

"The flight path was steeper than normal, it went below the visual glide path, the electronic glide path was turned off at the airport, and it was a go around initiated just prior to the crash," Hobart explained.

Hobart also believes the pilots weren't flying on autopilot, but manually. He stated autopilot makes landing much easier.

Additionally, according to an Associated Press report, a device called a glide slope - a ground-based aid that helps pilots stay on course while landing - had been shut down since June.

"It was very, very hectic when they arrived minutes after the plane came to rest and there was smoke coming out, and people were trying to get out as quickly as they could," Lee said.



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