News / Asia

South Korea Expresses Regret to China over Airline Crash Deaths

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye, June 6, 2013. (File)
South Korea's President Park Geun-hye, June 6, 2013. (File)
Daniel Schearf
South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye has sent a letter of regret to her Chinese counterpart over a Korean airliner crash in California that took the lives of two Chinese.  While the investigation is looking at the possibility of pilot error, the head of Asiana Airlines has rejected suggestions that the pilots lacked experience. 

South Korean president Park Geun-Hye offered condolences to the families of two Chinese teenage girls who died in the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214.

More than half of the 300-some passengers and crew were injured in Saturday's crash-landing at San Francisco International Airport, some critically.

The two 16-year-olds were the only fatalities and found outside of the plane, which caught fire as it skidded down the runway.

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen in this aerial image after it crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport, July 6, 2013.An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen in this aerial image after it crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport, July 6, 2013.
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An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen in this aerial image after it crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport, July 6, 2013.
An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen in this aerial image after it crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport, July 6, 2013.
U.S. investigators say one of the victims may have been run over by an emergency vehicle responding to the crash.

Speaking ahead of a Tuesday Cabinet meeting in Seoul, President Park urged a full investigation into what caused the tragedy.

She says they have to be thorough in finding the cause of the incident and do their best to ensure safety problems will no longer occur.

The South Korean president on Monday sent a letter expressing regret over the deaths to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The investigation has focused on the possibility of pilot error.

Investigators say the plane landed too slowly and the tail slammed into a sea-wall ahead of the runway and broke off. 

Asiana Airlines confirmed the pilot had only 43 hours of flying time on the type of plane involved, a Boeing 777, and it was his first time landing the craft in San Francisco.

The Korean airline also confirmed the pilot was being guided by a trainer who had just received his training license in June.

Yoon Young-doo (C), President and CEO of the Asiana Airlines, attends a news conference at the company's head office in Seoul, July 9, 2013.Yoon Young-doo (C), President and CEO of the Asiana Airlines, attends a news conference at the company's head office in Seoul, July 9, 2013.
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Yoon Young-doo (C), President and CEO of the Asiana Airlines, attends a news conference at the company's head office in Seoul, July 9, 2013.
Yoon Young-doo (C), President and CEO of the Asiana Airlines, attends a news conference at the company's head office in Seoul, July 9, 2013.
But at a packed press conference at the airline's headquarters in Seoul, company president Yoon Young-doo  defended the pilots' experience.

He says Lee Jung-min, the instructor pilot, has flown to San Francisco 33 times in total and is an excellent pilot. Lee Kang-kook, who was the pilot, has flown to San Francisco 29 times when he was co-pilot of a 747, he says, and also did an excellent job as a pilot of 320s and 737s.

The head of Asiana was leaving Tuesday for the United States to meet with the National Transportation Safety Board.

U.S. and Korean investigators are working together on the crash.  Asiana is Korea's second largest airline after Korean Air.

Asiana's last passenger plane crash was in 1993 when a Boeing 737 crashed into a mountain south of Seoul in bad weather, killing 66 people.

  • This NTSB photo shows Investigator in Charge Bill English and Chairperson Deborah Hersman discussing the progress of the investigation into the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco, July 9, 2013.
  • National Transportation Safety Board investigators assess the wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, at San Francisco International Airport.
  • The interior of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crashed at San Francisco International Airport.
  • A survivor of the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco is escorted by police after disembarking from a flight at Incheon international airport in Seoul, July 8, 2013.
  • Students of the Jiangshan Middle School light candles to form a heart shape and initials of the victims Yang Mengyuan and Wang Linjia of the Asiana Airlines crash, in Quzhou, Zhejiang province July 8, 2013.
  • An aircraft lands behind the wreckage of the Asiana Airlines plane at San Francisco International Airport, July 8, 2013.
  • U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators stand at the scene of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash site at San Francisco International Airport, July 7, 2013. (NTSB)
  • A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator looks at the tail section of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crashed at San Francisco International Airport, July 7, 2013. (NTSB)
  • An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 is seen after it crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, 2013. 
  • This aerial photo shows the crash site of Asiana Flight 214 at the San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, July 6, 2013.

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Comments
     
by: zflynn from: USA
July 09, 2013 10:12 PM
Park Geun-Hye looks like everyone's kindly neighborhood mom. How can anyone be undiplomatic to her and not feel like a rat?


by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
July 09, 2013 5:31 PM
The contention of the President of Asiana Airline that the pilot is experienced is half truth. Though the pilot has experience with Boeing 320, 737, 747 with several landings in San Francisco airport, the pilot does not have adequate experience for landing Boeing 777 in San Francisco airport. The difference is driving a car, bus, truck, oil tanker, container truck, sixteen wheeler and a triple decker used for transporting cars. The driver or pilot need experience and special license for driving each category of transportation on the ground or in the air. The Asiana Airlines pilot was just a trainee and does not have the experience to be pilot for a Boeing777 landing in San Francisco airport. Asiana Airline will pay dearly for the short cuts on the safety of passengers. An apology by South Korea for the death of two Chinese girls is not enough. Their family, those injured and other passengers have to be compensated.

In Response

by: Nick from: Dovan
July 10, 2013 1:54 AM
Hey there…

I am a Pilot and that is the worst comparison you have. The difference is more like Smart car and BMW 7 series. Not car and bus etc….

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