by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
The pilot of a Boeing 777 airplane that crash landed in San Francisco over the weekend was in training, according to the airline that was operating the flight.
The president of South Korea-based Asiana Airlines said the pilot of the company’s Flight 214, which crashed on Saturday as it approached the San Francisco airport, was learning how to fly the Boeing 777, according to multiple news sources.
The pilot, Lee Kang-guk, reportedly had experience flying other large airplanes like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 747. But Asiana Airlines Yoon Young-Doo President said in a news conference that was televised in South Korea that Kang-guk did not have a lot of experience flying the 777.
“For him, this was a training flight, as he was switching to a new type of plane,” Young-doo said of Kang-guk, according to a report by the New York Times.
Young-Doo told reporters in Korea that Kang-guk had been working for Asiana Airlines for 19 years, but he said that the Flight 214 pilot had only 43 hours of experience flying the Boeing 777.
By comparison, Young-Doo said Kang-guk had more than 9,700 hours flying other airplanes, and had previously landed Boeing 737s and 747s at San Francisco’s airport.
Young-Doo was backed up on Saturday’s flight by three other pilots because most long international flights take place with two sets of flight crews on board so that pilots can rest when they are not on duty.
All four pilots survived the Asiana Flight 214 crash, which was descending after a more than 10 hour flight from Seoul, Korea at the time of the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which has hinted that pilot error is the likely cause of the Flight 214 crash, has said that it is plans to interview the Asiana pilots.
The crash of the Boeing 777 interrupted a quiet holiday weekend, making headlines because it was the first major airline accident in the U.S. since a regional plane crashed in Buffalo, N.Y. in 2009.
News of the crash spread quickly on Saturday when passengers who escaped from the airplane began tweeting pictures of the wreckage.
The immediacy of the photographs lead to speculation that no one was seriously hurt or killed in the crash. However, eventually more than 180 people were hospitalized with injuries as a result of the crash landing in addition to the two deaths.