The pilot of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which crashed into a runway at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, may have been blinded by an unknown light, possibly a laser pointer.
According to the Associated Press, the South Korean pilot, Lee Gang-kuk, told NTSB investigators that he saw a flash of light while coming in for a landing at San Francisco International. Lee reportedly first saw the light at around 500 feet, or 34 seconds before impact.
Lee stated that he did not know where the light originated from, saying it may have been a reflection of the sun. Speculators online have said that it may have been a laser pointer that temporarily distracted Lee and caused the crash that killed two people and injured 180.
According to the investigation, Lee had spent only 43 hours flying the Boeing 777 before the crash. This was also his first time attempting to land a Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport. Lee was accompanied by a more experienced pilot, Lee Jung-min, who had more than 3,220 hours with the Boeing 777.
While Lee had clocked only a small number of hours on the Boeing 777, he was not an inexperienced pilot. He had just under 10,000 total flight hours with various other types of jets before he crashed on Saturday.
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As Lee attempted to make his first ever landing with the 777 at San Francisco International Airport, he let his speed drop far too low. The plane was coming in at 119 miles per hour, described as “significantly below” the target speed of 158 mph by the NTSB.
As the Boeing 777 came in too slow, Lee lost altitude. He soon lifted the plane’s nose in an attempt to regain some height, and collided the plane’s tail wing with a seawall near the runway. In the wreck, two Chinese students, Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia. They were sitting in the plane’s tail section.
One of the girls may have been hit by a firetruck after the crash.
"We have information and evidence to suggest that one of our fire apparatus came into contact with one of the victims at the scene,” San Francisco Fire Department chief Joanne Hayes White said. “We're working closely with the NTSB as they conduct their investigation, particularly on this aspect." This is the first fatal accident to occur with a Boeing 777 since the plane entered service in 1995.