Asiana Pilots Mentioned Speed Only 9 Seconds Before Crash

The pilots of Asiana Flight 214 made no mention of the plane’s speed in its final moments until less than nine seconds before it hit a seawall, U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said.

From the time the plane descended below 500 feet, the first mention of speed is heard after an automated system called out an altitude of 100 feet, Hersman said at the board’s last briefing on the accident today.

There were two calls by pilots to abort the landing -- one three seconds before impact and the second 1 1/2 seconds later by another crew member, she said. Hersman previously described only the second call.

One of the pilots can be heard warning, before the plane reached 500 feet, that they were descending too quickly, Hersman said. That altitude is the point at which Boeing Co. (BA) advises pilots that they must have the plane in the correct alignment or abort the landing.

The plane reached 500 feet about 34 seconds before the crash, Hersman said at an earlier briefing.

There’s no evidence on the plane’s data recorder that the automatic throttle malfunctioned, Hersman said. That device on the Boeing 777 is designed to hold the speed and includes an emergency mode to prevent pilots from getting too slow.

Safety features on the plane appear to have functioned as designed, Hersman said. The fuel tanks didn’t break open, she said. Fires around the jet were fed by an engine that broke loose and other flammable material, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Levin in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at

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