SFO — A plane crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport Saturday morning after its tail came off while it was touching down on the runway. According to a witness, around 11:20 a.m. the plane was just about to land -- its landing gear had come down -- when the tail of the plane came off. After wobbling for a minute, the aircraft flipped upside down, coming to a stop on runway on it´s back. The plane, reportedly a Boeing 777, was coming from South Korea, according to flight tracking information.
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Jon Scott, Fox anchor and pilot, says that it appears, based upon debris field and reports that nose was higher than tail as the plane came in, judges that pilot may have been flying in too low over water and hit tail on rock jetty at edge of runway. Pilot error.
Just watched a helicopter based video of the scene and it appears the plane came in way low and ripped the tail off at the seawall before the runway threshold. There is a debris trail all the way from the seawall to the resting place of the mostly burned out hulk. I would suspect the uncontrolled landing stove in the landing gear and that´s why it´s on it´s belly. Amazing that there doesn´t appear to be any injuries that I´ve read about at any rate.
Plane did not overshoot the runway. Pilot experts looking at pictures say the plane landed too early and too short on the runway, tail down too low. Plane did not flip; the tail section that came off flipped down the runway after it broke off.
Most of my career was spent building large aircraft. Viewing the pictures now, it is apparent as to what happened..... The AC was short of the runway, the tail hit right at the top of the rip rap (rocks along the shore), which stressed the aft section breaking it off at the aft pressure bulkhead, (see the pie shaped section at the back of the fuselage). That would have caused loss of AC control. Lets hope any death was minimal.
Theorizing far in advance of the data, I am not yet jumping on the Pilot Error bandwagon. These are not first-solo student pilots, and the B-777 is not an entry-level airplane. The weather was just about as good as it gets. The pilots train intensively, and every six months must fly a gruelling check ride in a very sophisticated full-motion simulator where examiners can fail every system on the plane. The plane has very capable electronic guidance systems with back-up monitoring systems. If the pilot flying had been inadvertantly significantly below the glidepath, if the power had been inappropriate, you can bet there would have been a sweetly urgent computer voice advising the needed corrective action. No, my early money is on some sort of in-flight damage. Norks, maybe?
Latest report says that two passengers have died, some have burn injuries and that all were evacuated. There was enough time to get out on the left side of the plane before the fire got serious, which is a testament to the redundant mechanisms and research the Boeing company puts into it´s planes. It lost it´s tail and landing gear, slithered sideways off the runway and still the body of the plane is in one piece. The black boxes will tell the whole story. Till then, we only speculate. Thank God it was no worse and that the majority have survived.
That airport is right on the water. Passengers with window seats get the feeling they will be landing in the bay. There is a large debris field from water´s s edge to where the plane it finally came to rest. The most likely explanation is the pilot came in too low and with the nose too far up and caught part of the tail on the breakwater.
They have made some design changes over the last couple of decades to make crash landings more survivable. Seats and, importantly, the floor mounts holding those seats in place during a crash, have been improved. The low death toll -so far- may be attributable to such improvements.
The wreckage indicates the airplane not only hit short of the runway but off-center right, which may be evidence of some distress or anomaly as the aircraft descended. There could be numerous reasons beyond "pilot error" to produce that evidence. The flight recorder will be key.
#20 I take issue with your comments too. I think you violated teh "if it feels good don´t do it" rule. I agree with the other commenters about Boeing quality. You can bash the unions themselves but still respect the dedicated people who build and maintain the planes, union though they may be.
I think the comments above suggesting that there was a problem that caused the plane to hit seems likely - this approach is well known and pilots of 777s have to be top drawer. So pilot error seems possible but it also seems to me that the warning devices would have been going off like crazy.
Wasn´t the 777 grounded recently for some sort of defects? In addition, I may not be rational on this issue, but I am not comfortable with an aircraft with all flight controls operated by computer. Call me old fashioned, but...
How many of these incidents have we recently been through? I´m waiting for things to settle and facts to come in. For now: gratitude for those who survived and prayers for those who were injured or worse.
Why do the NTSB and other "authorities" insist on giving perfunctory briefings when they really don´t know anything in situations like this? Then we have to sit and listen to ignorant reporters ask stupid questions that no one can answer. I know more about what happened by reading this thread than listening to the so called "briefing".
You have to wait for the investigation result to find out what really happened. At first blush it looks like the aircraft approached the runway both too low and too slow, witnesses say that that at the end of flight, the nose was up to about a 45 degree angle and the tail struck the rip rap rock shore line before the end of the runway tearing off the aft portion of the fuselage. The instruments in the cockpit should have been telling the pilots that they were outside the landing envelope. The data recorders aboard the aircraft should tell the story pretty quickly.
#40 – You may be thinking of the 787 Dreamliner, which was grounded for a few months earlier this year while problems with its lithium batteries were sorted out. It’s now back in the air.
The 777 has been in service since the mid-90s, and to date has logged about 5 million flights. (Flights, not miles.) As for fly-by-wire, it’s not that the flight controls are operated by a computer. Rather, the hydraulic cables that formerly moved the control surfaces (rudder, elevator, ailerons) have been replaced by wires that carry inputs from the flight computer, which in turn receives electrical signals from the pilot’s yoke, pedals, and column. The pilot-in-command is still very much in command.
Amen #43-the "authorities" and their spokesmouths have been less than useful at many recent disasters. I´ll never forget that shifty fountain of misinformation Lt. Col. Vance of the Conn. State Police in the aftermath of Newtown. I hope this investigation is more open to public view, but it is hard to have confidence in our government minders.
I would just like to point out to the poster here who has a less than positive view toward Boeing, and our readers and other posters, a few observations.
Take a look at the remains. Here is a huge B777 with the tail torn off aft of the pressure vessel, both main landing gear sheared away, one engine completely missing with the other ripped off the pylon and nestled alongside the fuselage, a very short landing slide off the runway and down into the dirt, and after all that, nearly everyone deplaned intact.
I would say to Boeing and her people, Kudos for a job well done for building such an outstandingly safe and strong airplane.
Korean Air had horrible problems with crew training - the most famous example was KAL801 which crashed on Guam on August 6, 1997.
Malcolm Gladwell´s writeup in Blink is considered good enough to be referenced in flight schools.
This one, though, is strictly wait-and-see.
Regarding "fly by wire" (and without knowing anything about the 777) the are probably different levels of control. One is for computers to detect deviations from the pilot´s intent, as indicated by the controls, and correct them automatically. Using the computer´s quicker response its possible to fly airplanes that would otherwise be unflyable.
Warning - I´m not a TV expert, I play one on the internet.
#35, I just worked with a retired employee from Boeing just last week. He is now a technical rep for Argon who worked on a directional finder antenna on a DDG class ship here in San Diego. Since we both were checking quality workmanship of a certain contractor, he mentioned the Quality Assurance program of Boeing. He touted it as the finest in the airline industry. We don´t know the cause of the crash at SFO,I am holding my judgement until the NTSB completes its investigation.
Any time you have a crash of an airliner as big as a 777 with 300 people on board and the A/C is a total wreck and only 2 lives are lost, you have a lot of hard working people do a lot of good work. That many survivors just a few years ago would have been called a miracle!! Let´s call this what it is. Good show, Boeing..keep up the good work!! We are proud to have you in our camp!!
The news progresses ~ now that SFO´s GLIDEPATH is reported to have been turned off July 1 (Until late August), that means the NTSB hearings on this one will get well into the need for all available electronic assists to be ON to help make sure the pilots successfully land the planes even in perfect visual conditions.
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