What we know and don’t know about Asiana Flight 214

Story highlights

Airline: Pilot was making first landing in control of a Boeing 777 at San Francisco airport

Pilot had 10,000 hours of experience but only 43 hours flying time in a 777

An emergency vehicle ran over one of the passengers

Passengers describe the engines spooling up and the nose tilting up before impact

CNN —  

Here’s what we know about Saturday’s crash landing of Asiana Flight 214 and some of the key questions raised by those facts:

1. Based on the debris field, the aircraft appears to have struck the rock sea wall well before the start of the runway. There are some marks on the sea wall, consistent with an impact of some part of the plane. Some aircraft debris ended up in the water.

At seven seconds before impact, the pilots attempted to spool up the engines. At four seconds, the stall warning sounded. At 1.5 seconds, the pilots tried to abort the landing and go around to attempt another landing. At impact, the flight data recorder shows the aircraft had a forward speed of a mere 106 knots (121 mph).

What we don’t know: Why was the aircraft approaching so slowly? Did the pilot not realize he was short?

Girls killed in crash were headed for camp

2. Asiana said the pilot at the controls was making his first landing of a Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport. While a pilot with more than 10,000 hours of experience, including many hours flying Boeing 747s, he had only 43 hours of flying time in a 777.

What we don’t know: Did the flight crew simply land the aircraft short?

3. The NTSB investigators have found nothing to corroborate online flight tracking records showing that Asiana Flight 214 descended from cruising altitude much more steeply and rapidly than previous Asiana flights on the same route. The NTSB says it found no “abnormally steep descent data.”

4. What appears to be the Boeing 777’s right engine is detached from the wing and wedged against the right side of the fuselage. Another engine is a considerable distance from the fuselage in a grassy area to the right of runway 28L. This appears to be the left engine.

What we don’t know: Did the lack of ILS force the pilot to make a VFR landing in an aircraft with which he was not fully familiar?

5. A preliminary reading of the flight data and voice data recorders show the 777 was traveling well below the target approach speed of 137 knots, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

What we don’t know: Why didn’t the pilot recognize he was too low for the approach and initiate a go-around earlier?

6. Flight tracking records show that the Asiana 214 flight descended from cruising altitude much more steeply and rapidly than previous Asiana flights on the same route.

7. The instrument landing system approach on runway 28L was not working on the day of the crash. It had been down for some time. Flights were landing using visual flight rules. The weather was clear.

8. The runway’s precision approach path indicator lights, showing correct flight approach altitudes, were working.

What we don’t know: Is this an indication the tail of the aircraft detached after first impact?

9. Most of the fire damage to the aircraft occurred after the 777 came to a stop on its belly.

10. Passengers described the cabin interior as heavily damaged, with overhead bins dropping and at least one life raft/escape slide inflating inside the aircraft, trapping a flight attendant, who was freed by passengers.

11. Audio recordings of air traffic control conversations show the pilot did not declare an emergency before the crash landing. Emergency vehicles were dispatched afterward.

12. The aircraft was built in 2006 and was purchased new by Asiana.

13. All four pilots on the plane have been interviewed by U.S. and South Korean investigators, the head of South Korea’s Aviation Policy Bureau said.

14. The San Francisco Fire Department said one of the victims killed may have been struck by an emergency vehicle, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said. Asiana has identified the two deceased passengers as Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia of China. Both were 16.

15. The NTSB was planning to interview the four pilots Monday afternoon. Key information from those interviews will be made public at Tuesday’s briefing.

First responders describe eerie, chaotic moments

Why so many people survived

CNN’s Dan Simon and Richard Quest contributed to this report.