<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - ]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/feature/asiana-airlines-crash http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:51:53 -0700 Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:51:53 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[SF Claims Asiana Crash Victim Was Not Killed By Fire Truck]]> Fri, 31 Jan 2014 08:29:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/crashvictim1.jpg

The fire truck is not to blame -- and neither is San Francisco, the city claims.

San Francisco city officials insist in filings made with federal officials that 16-year old Ye Men Yuan -- one of the three people who died following the Asiana Airlines crash in July -- was already dead when she was run over by two fire trucks in the chaos of the crash scene, according to reports.

"Ample evidence" support those findings, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, a position vehemently objected to by the San Mateo County coroner, who established blunt force trauma from the fire rigs as the cause of death.

Alive or dead, Ye was lying in a pile of fire-retardant foam when the first of two "foam-spraying rigs" ran over her -- after being alerted that she was there.

Ye's family has filed a legal claim against the city that pins the blame for her death on the fire department.

Ye had no foam in her lungs, and no dirt in her lungs either, which would suggest she was not breathing by the time she was struck by the trucks.

The coroner who declared Ye dead by fire truck disputed the city, saying that she had "massive internal hemorrhaging" from her head, which can only happen when the heart is still pumping blood, the newspaper reported.

<![CDATA[Report: Asiana Crash Survivors Sue Boeing]]> Sun, 19 Jan 2014 22:21:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/asianapassenger.jpg

Several passengers who survived the Asiana Crash at San Francisco International Airport last summer are suing Boeing, the maker of that plane.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the suit claims Boeing's negligence contributed to the July 6 crash.

The suit claims some of the equipment was improperly installed and defective, resulting in inadequate warnings for the pilots about low air speeds.

Three girls from China died in the crash and the ensuing emergency response.

MORE: Asiana Plane Crash Survivor Shares Photos of SFO Scene

About 100 passengers are listed in the lawsuit.

<![CDATA[SFO Releases Post-Asiana Crash Analysis]]> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 19:20:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/asianaday.jpg

San Francisco International Airport officials have released preliminary findings from a self-review of the airport's performance in July's Asiana Airlines crash, citing the need for improvement in coordinating  emergency responses and providing adequate customer service.

SFO officials shared the findings at an industry event Wednesday at the airport, where Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed while landing on July 6.

Three Chinese girls were killed in the crash and its aftermath while more  than 180 other passengers were injured.

The outside agency that prepared the report also discovered several things that SFO could have done better.

The airport gives itself high marks when it comes to strong commitment among first responders.

The reported cited good coordination with local hospitals and quick action to reopen affected runways.

But the report pointed out the lack of a streamline plan from EMS responders that came from two different counties.

The airport website also proved to be a huge problem. It crashed when 50,000 or so more people tried to access it.

MORE: Coroner: Asiana Crash Victim Alive When Hit By Fire Truck

The report also addressed the issue of hotel price gouging during the disaster.

“We worked though our partnership with our San Francisco travel association to come up with some agreements with local hotels to establish a distress passenger rate to avoid price gouging. That’s it from the customer service side,” airport spokesman Doug Yakel said.

WE INVESTIGATE: Some Hotel Room Rates Soar Following SFO Plane Crash

The draft report also noted the airports emergency alert system failed and needed to be replaced.

It even recommends that SFO officials keep restaurants open 24 hours to accommodate delayed travelers after a disaster.

One thing not mentioned in the self-assessment was the fact that one of those killed in the crash died after accidentally being run over by a first responder.

SFO officials say, that will be addressed by the NTSB when it issues its final report.

San Mateo County prosecutors found no criminal culpability for the  department and called the death a tragic accident.

The Asiana crash happened when the Boeing 777 plane struck a seawall while trying to land at the airport, causing the tail section to separate from the rest of the aircraft.

FULL COVERAGE: Flight 214 Crash Landing

<![CDATA[NTSB to Hold Hearings on Asiana Airlines Crash]]> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 09:09:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/Asiana+pics+from+inside+airplane-30.jpg

The National Transportation Safety Board announced on Friday that the agency is convening a two-day investigative hearing to discuss the ongoing probe into the July crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco International.

The hearing will be held Dec. 10 to 11, in Washington, D.C., at NTSB headquarters.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said in a statement that the hearing will focus on pilot awareness in highly automated aircraft, emergency response and cabin safety. The parties participating in the investigative hearing will be announced at a later time.

In addition, the NTSB released the latest updates in the ongoing investigation into the crash, where three teenage girls died and 182 were injured on July 6 at SFO.

MORE: Last Asiana Crash Survivor Leaves SF General

Nothing conclusive has been released, but investigators have traveled overseas and interviewed many key players. Here is what they have done so far:

  •  The investigator-in-charge and investigators from the Operations and Human Performance Group traveled to Korea and met with officials from Asiana Airlines. While there, investigators conducted numerous interviews with Asiana management and training personnel, observed Asiana procedures in a simulator and an exemplar aircraft, and gathered further documentation on airline training and policies. 
  •  NTSB investigators from the maintenance group also traveled to Korea and reviewed the records for the accident airplane, including the maintenance that had been performed on the evacuation slides. 
  •  The "Survival Factors Group" conducted an examination of the evacuation slide/raft systems at the manufacturer's facility in New Jersey and is planning future testing of the systems. The group also re-examined the wreckage to gather additional information about the fire propagation and structural damage. Following that examination, the wreckage was sectioned and moved to a secure storage facility. 
  •  Investigators and party members met in Seattle to examine the recorded flight data and compare it to the expected airplane systems operation. The "Systems Group" is currently developing a test plan for the mode control panel and the "Vehicle Performance Group" is finalizing the event simulation match.


<![CDATA[Last Asiana Crash Survivor Leaves SF General]]> Wed, 23 Oct 2013 18:13:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/asiana+plane+aerial.JPG

After three months in recovery, San Francisco General Hospital announced on Wednesday the release of the final patient injured during the deadly Asiana Airlines crash.

SF General didn't release many personal details about the woman, but the chief of surgery said in a statement that she was one of the sickest patients she'd cared for in her career.

"This hospital saved her life," said chief of surgery Dr. Margaret Knudson. "Our whole team breathed a big sigh of relief when she left. Not that we're glad that she's gone of course, but we're glad that she made it."

PHOTOS: Boeing 777 Crash Lands at San Francisco Airport

The woman was among the 180 passengers injured in the July 6 crash at San Francisco International Airport. Two teens were killed, and a third teenager was killed accidentally when a fire truck ran over her. 

The hospital didn't identify the patient, but did list her injuries, showing that she suffered road burns over 30 percent of her body. She suffered damage to her spinal cord and intestinal wounds that prevented her from ingesting solid food for two months, according to the hospital.

When the patient was released in "good" condition on Tuesday, many in the hospital staff said they breathed a sigh of relief. "We're glad she made it," one doctor said. She was transferred to a Bay Area rehabilitation facility for further treatment.

PHOTOS: Asiana Plane FuselageRemoved From SFO Runway

“The work performed by our intensive care and operative teams throughout her care was amazing and directly contributed to her success. ”  Knudson said. “She’s a real save. That’s what we call it when things go well. She was smiling when she left. It was a beautiful sight. “

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Asiana Survivors Get Initial Compensation]]> Sun, 11 Aug 2013 20:50:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/asiana+plane+aerial.JPG

Survivors on the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed at San Francisco International Airport last month will get an initial $10,000 in compensation.

The amount is to cover medical and transportation costs. 288 passengers who survived the crash are eligible for the payment.

The carrier may pay more after the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation into the accident.

Three people died when the Asiana Boeing 777 struck a seawall short of a runway at SFO on July 6, sending the plane spinning off the tarmac.


MORE: SFO plane crash survivors file lawsuit against Asiana, Boeing

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Insiders Question NTSB Transparency]]> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 10:52:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/198*120/SFO7NTSB.jpg

During the first week following the crash of Asiana Flight 214 National Transportation Safety Board regularly released information about its investigation and facts that may have contributed to the crash.

Many applauded the NTSB's transparency. Now a former lead investigator with the NTSB is raising questions about those decision.

“I don’t know why there was as much of the information that was released early on in the investigation,” said GregFife, a former NTSB investigator and current aviation expert. “I know from an accident investigator standpoint and industry standpoint, there were a lot of people questioning it.”

Fife had 21 years of experience with the NTSB. He was a member of the "Go Team" and served as investigator in charge.

While he acknowledges the NTSB’s push for transparency, Fife and other industry sources were surprised by the amount and detail of investigative information in the days following the crash.

NTSB chair Deborah Hersman held her first press conference two days after the Asiana crash that left three people dead and dozens injured. Hersman revealed details about the pilot’s experience level in a Boeing 777, the speed and altitude of the plane before it crashed and the pilot’s call for a go-around just prior to impact.

“I was very surprised that they were releasing as much information,” Fife said, “especially off the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. Those are the two key elements in any large aircraft accident and you really have to substantiate the information. But you also have to put it in context.”

Fife says it is a delicate balance between the public’s right to know and the responsibility to make sure critical details are accurate.

“We were very guarded in the information we provided to the public early in the investigation,” Fife said. “Not because it was secret, not because we didn’t want people to know, but because we needed to vet the information. We had to be sure it was fact before we released it as fact.”

NTSB's public affairs officer Keith Holloway said "that's what we do, we release information as we get it."

He said in recent years the news cycle has changed and social media has also changed.

"Years ago it didn't exist," Holloway said.

In reference to the release of information following the crash of Flight 214, "it was not unusual."

If you have a tip for the Investigative Unit email theunit@nbcbayarea.com or call 888-996-TIPS.

Photo Credit: Twitter.com/NTSB]]>
<![CDATA[Survivors File Lawsuit Against Asiana, Boeing]]> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 09:36:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/Asiana+pics+from+inside+airplane-28.jpg

Asiana Airlines and Boeing are accused of inadequate pilot training and poor aircraft design in a complaint filed Thursday at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

"People have become complacent in the airline industry," said Frank Pitre, an attorney representing nine people who were on the deadly Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crash landed at San Francisco International Airport last month.

Pitre added in regards to the complacency that there has been a lack of focus, and when accidents such as the Asiana Flight 214 crash landing happen it raises awareness.

The deadly crash goes beyond a plane that was being flown too low and too slow, according to Pitre.

"One of the pilots assumed the auto throttle was engaged. It was not," he said, adding that he is looking to see what can be done to tell pilots that their automated system is not working.

Pitre and his clients also believe there was a serious shortcoming in the plane's warning system, which could have done a better job notifying the pilots when the air speed was below the targeted range.

"Both those things in combination with inattention combined to create what I call the turmoil for this crash, what I call the perfect storm," he said.

The nine Asiana plane-crash survivors Pitre represents are looking to see major changes made to the Boeing 777.

Pitre said recommendations were made to improve the safety features of the aircraft, following other plane crashes. But those recommendations were never implemented, which Pitre said needs to change, along with the way pilots communicate.

"This kind of accident was preventable," Pitre said. "It was foreseeable as it happened in the past and it should never happen again."

<![CDATA[Asiana Passenger Speaks Out on Lawsuit]]> Thu, 08 Aug 2013 18:03:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/asianapassenger.jpg

They survived the crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport, but for some, recovering from the injuries they suffered in the crash has become a long and painful process.

One survivor who is not able to return home to China because of his cracked jaw and other injuries is taking legal action against Asiana Airlines.

Henry Xie, 60, walked out of the wreckage, but says he can't escape pain from a back injury and nightmares about the crash. 

He says he wonders if his life will ever be the same. “I was seated with seatbelt, but maybe not tight enough because the impact was very strong,” he said.

Xie says he remembers slamming to the tarmac when Asiana Flight 214 crashed on July 6. But he's not sure how he ended up with a cracked jaw, a strained neck and shattered vertebrae in his spine.

Xie has spent a restless and painful month recovering in a South San Francisco hotel. He says sleeping has become a problem due to the pain – and the nightmares. 

He says he can't return home to Shanghai, China, and his job as a university professor until his back heals, because right now he can’t sit through the 11-hour flight.

“The bone is broken. For my age I don't know there will be... Can I heal or not? I don't know,” Xie said.

Xie and his wife filed a lawsuit against Asiana Airlines in federal court in San Francisco, accusing Asiana of gross negligence. The couple is seeking at least $5 million.

Xie is able to file suit in the U.S. because his son bought his ticket in the States. His attorney says hundreds of other foreign nationals on board are only able to file suit in Korea or China.

Xie's lawyer, Mike Verna, said he wants to expose the truth about why Asiana Flight 214 crashed and he wants Xie to be compensated for his pain and suffering.

Xie said what he really wants is his life back. “For me, if I can get health, I don't want $5 million at all. I just want health,” Xie said.

Xie says his doctor at Stanford University told him he may not be able to return home to Shanghai China until October.
NBC Bay Area contacted attorneys who represent the airlines tonight for reaction to the lawsuit and have not yet heard back.

<![CDATA[Asiana Victims Funeral Held in China]]> Fri, 02 Aug 2013 14:02:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/175297771_8.jpg Relatives react during a memorial service for Asiana plane crash victims Wang Linjia, Ye Mengyuan and Liu Yipeng at Jiangshan Municipal Funeral Home on August 1, 2013 in Jiangshan, China. The three Chinese teenager girls died after Asiana Airline Flight 214 crashed onto the runway at SFO

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Emotional Memorial Held for Asiana Flight 214 Victims]]> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 08:35:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000004126172_722x406_39241283651.jpg The families of the three teenage victims of the Asiana crash-landing at SFO in July gathered in China July 29, 2013 for an emotional memorial.]]> <![CDATA[Passengers Diverted by Asiana Crash Have Luggage Stolen]]> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 06:37:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sfothieves.jpg

A United Airlines employee and his wife are accused of stealing luggage of passengers diverted by the Asiana crash at the San Francisco International Airport.

Prosecutors in San Mateo County said Sean Sharif Crudup, 44, and a customer service representative at United, and his wife Raychas Elizabeth Thomas, 32, both of Richmond, were charged with grand theft and burglary.

Karen Guidotti, San Mateo County’s chief deputy district attorney, alleged the couple stole luggage of passengers who were supposed to fly into SFO  on July 8 but were diverted because of the Asiana Airlines crash two days earlier, which killed three and injured 182.

The couple's luggage arrived before they did. And when the couple - also, coincidentally from Richmond - went to pick up their bags, they weren't there, prosecutors said.

Guidotti said there is surveillance video that shows Crudup handing the stolen bags to his wife. She declined to provide a copy of the video to NBC Bay Area.

United said in a released statement they were assisting police. "We hold our employees to the highest standard and have zero tolerance for any theft. We are assisting the San Francisco Police Department in this investigation, and this employee has been held out of service," said United spokesman Luke Punzenberger.

MORE: Full Asiana Crash Coverage

Inside the bags were items from Nordstrom, which investigators say Thomas returned for some $5,000 at the Pleasanton department store. More property from the victims was found at their home, prosecutors said. Guidotti would not elaborate on the specific clothing items.

The victims who lost their luggage were a Richmond couple.

Crudup pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of grand theft and burglary and was being held at San Mateo County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bail. Thomas posted $50,000 bail. Neither could be reached by phone for immediate comment on Monday.

The two are scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 26.

<![CDATA[New Tech Bought, Not Installed, at Time of Asiana Crash]]> Fri, 19 Jul 2013 21:54:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000004046454_722x406_37944387613.jpg

SFO had purchased but not installed FAA recommended Infrared technology that mounts to airport rescue vehicles at the time of the Asiana Flight 214 crash on July 6, according to San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson, Mindy Talmage.

To view the FAA recommendation, click here.

Drivers Enhanced Vision System (DEVS) uses infrared cameras, GPS equipment and computers to allow firefighters rushing to a crash scene to more efficiently and safely maneuver through fog, smoke and debris.

SFO had purchased the technology from a Canadian company, Eagle Eye, but had not yet put them to use at the time of the crash.

The devices detect heat and help emergency teams locate a fire inside a downed airplane. They can also help locate human bodies through haze, smoke or foam.

This is very new technology and has recently been installed at airports in Boston, Vancouver, Cincinnati and San Jose.

San Jose Fire Department Captain Mike Van Elgort told NBC Bay Area the infrared technology is currently mounted on one truck and a hand held device is installed in another.

Captain Van Elgort emphasized the technology's main purpose is to detect fires on scene.

Oakland International Airport spokesman confirms that a form of infrared is used on their fire trucks as well, but say it is not as advanced as DEVS.

No one knows for certain, if this system would have seen that teenager through the foam and chaos on the runway, but some experts say it might have helped.

Do you have a tip for the Investigative Unit? E-mail us: TheUnit@nbcbayarea.com

<![CDATA[Coroner: Asiana Crash Victim Alive When Fire Truck Hit]]> Fri, 23 Aug 2013 09:30:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/7-19-2013-asiana-victim-new.jpg

A Chinese student on board Asiana Flight 214 survived the plane’s crash-landing only to be killed accidentally on the runway by a firefighting vehicle racing to the scene.

That was the conclusion announced Friday by San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucralt at a news conference detailing that Ye Meng Yuan, 16, was killed by "multiple blunt injuries," consistent with being run over by a vehicle. He said that a review of her internal hemorrhaging showed that she had survived the plane crash, and was alive before a specialized airport firetruck ran over her. He did not know how many time she had been run over, and the driver's name of the rig was not revealed.

She and 34 other Chinese high school students were on their way to Stanford University, and then a Christian summer camp in Southern California when the plane crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.

Foucralt said he spoke on Thursday with the girl's family, along with the two others' victims families who died, to tell them the news. He declined to elaborate on their reaction. Ye's family is in the Bay Area, awaiting to take their daughter's remains back to China. They have declined all media requests.

The teen, whose first name means "Dream" in Chinese, and her middle school classmate, 16-year-old Wang Linjia, died in the crash. The other victim killed, 15-year-old Liu Yipeng, died at a hospital July 12.  Another 182 people were injured when the Boeing 777 came in too slow and too low when it clipped the seawall on the runway as it landed on what had began as a sunny Saturday afternoon.

MORE: Full Asiana Airlines Crash Coverage

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said that investigators believe that one of the specialized rigs, called an Aircraft Rescue Firefighting vehicle, or ARFF, struck the girl, who was "not standing up, but on the ground." She also said that it's possible two rigs hit her.

"This is devastating news," she said. “The men and women dispatched to the scene of the crash of Asiana Airline Flight 214 are in the business of saving lives, and many of them put their own lives at risk that day to save passengers and crew. I remain proud of their efforts under such extraordinary circumstances.”

A few facts still remained unclear after the news conference, specifically what role the firefighting foam played in possibly covering up the teen. She had been sitting in the back of the Boeing 777, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, before it crashed. And now, authorities are investigating  how she came to be found at the edged of a paved path near the left wing - covered in foam - just before 12:30 p.m.

Hayes-White has not personally spoken with the families herself, but said that through the Chinese Consulate, she has expressed a desire to meet with them one-on-one if they choose. She said she told the consul that the families have her deepest apologies and condolences.

RAW VIDEO: Coroner, Fire Chief Comment on Asiana Autopsy Report

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee also offered his thoughts to the families, while supporting his city's firefighters who he said acted quickly and heroically:  "I am profoundly saddened by the involvement of a responding emergency vehicle in the death 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan. On behalf of the people of San Francisco, I offer my deepest condolences and regret for her tragic death, and the deaths of her close friend Wang Linjia, and 15-year-old Liu Yipeng. Our hearts are heavy, and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their families and friends an ocean away. "

Lee noted that the lives of the remaining 304 passengers and crewmembers on board the craft were "undoubtedly saved that day" because of the firefighters and first reponders."

When asked about possible civil charges that might lodged against the department, Hayes-White said she wasn't a legal expert and wouldn't comment. Criminal charges are not expected in what Hayes-White called a "tragic accident."

Hayes-White also added that, in the wake of this "very sensitive matter," her department will "continue to examine our response, if we could have done something different."

NBC Bay Area spoke with Wang Chuan of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco. He said there are still eight family members of the three Chinese victims who are still in the Bay Area, taking care of everything from waiting for the autopsies to talking to attorneys. They have not responded so far to the San Francisco fire chief and mayor’s invitations to sit down and talk.

Chuan believes the families are coping better now, after meeting with the Consul General at his San Francisco home a few times in the last couple of weeks.

“I think now they’re getting better,” said Chuan. “But I can still feel they are very – I can feel deep sorrow inside.”

NBC Bay Area reporter Stephanie Chuang contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[RAW VIDEO: Coroner, Fire Chief Comment on Asiana Autopsy Report]]> Fri, 19 Jul 2013 11:46:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/asianavictim.jpg A Chinese student on board Asiana Flight 214 survived the plane’s crash-landing only to be killed accidentally on the runway by a fire truck racing to the scene, according to the San Mateo County Coroner.]]> <![CDATA[Local Asiana Crash Victims Sue Airline]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 15:18:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/198*120/SFO1NTSB.jpg

A Monterey-area mother and son who were injured in the July 6 Asiana Airlines at San Francisco International Airport have sued the airline in federal court in San Francisco.

Younga Jun Machorro, 41, and her son Benjamin Machorro, 8, claim in the lawsuit filed Tuesday that the airline showed "gross, wanton and willful disregard for the rights and safety of all passengers aboard Flight 214 and needlessly caused injuries, damages and deaths to innocent passengers."

Three teenage Chinese schoolgirls died as a result of the crash and more than 180 passengers were injured when the low-flying Boeing 777 struck a seawall bordering San Francisco Bay and the tail section was separated from the aircraft's fuselage.

Michael Verna, an attorney for the family, said the case appears to be the first lawsuit against the airline in connection with the crash. The lawsuit asks for $5 million in damages for injuries and emotional distress.

Machorro's husband, Hector Machorro Jr., is also a plaintiff, saying that his wife has been unable to provide comfort and care to their child and to himself. Verna said the mother and son were both injured in the neck and the back.

They were treated at San Francisco General Hospital and released July 7, but tests and treatment are ongoing. Verna said Younga Jun Machorro suffers so much pain she has been unable to return to work as a foreign language instructor for the military.

Both the mother and son are still wearing braces and have been traumatized, he said. Machorro and her son had been visiting her family in Seoul, Verna said. One of the goals of the lawsuit, the attorney said, is "to give the family the right to perform an independent investigation" through the court system. A second goal, he said is to challenge alleged "systemic problems in training and inadequacies in communication" among pilots on the part of the airline. Spokesman Ki Won Suh said the airline had no comment on the lawsuit.

Photo Credit: Twitter.com/NTSB]]>
<![CDATA[Monitoring Cockpit Systems Not Easy for Pilots]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 14:28:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bow3.jpg

Airline pilots often have trouble consistently monitoring automated cockpit safety systems, a problem that has shown up repeatedly in accidents and may have been a factor in the recent crash landing of a South Korean airliner in San Francisco, industry and government experts said Wednesday.

The human brain isn't wired to continually pay attention to instruments that rarely fail or show discrepancies, a panel of experts told an annual safety conference of the Air Line Pilots Association, the world's largest pilots union.

As a result, teaching pilots how to effectively monitor instruments is now as important as teaching them basic "stick-and-rudder'' flying skills, they said.

"The human brain just isn't very well designed to monitor for an event that very rarely happens,'' Key Dismukes, a top NASA human factors scientist, said.

While people "do very well'' at actively controlling a plane, "we're not well designed to monitor for a little alphanumeric (a combination of alphabet letters and numbers) on the panel even if that alphanumeric tells us something important,'' he said. The ``sheer volume of monitoring required even on the most routine flights and the diversity'' of systems that must be monitored has increased, he said.

Concern about the problem is great enough that government, union and industry safety officials formed a working group last fall to come up with a blueprint for teaching pilots techniques for how to overcome the brain's natural tendency to sometimes see but disregard important information. For example, if pilots see airspeed indicators showing appropriate speeds landing after landing, their brains may filter out an unexpected low or high speed, they said. ``The human brain filters out information it considers unchanging,'' said Helena Reidemar, an airline pilot and the pilots union's director of human factors.

Asiana Flight 214 crashed short of a runway at San Francisco International Airport on July 6 after a nearly 11-hour flight from Seoul, South Korea. Of the 307 people on board, three have died and dozens of others were injured.

One of the issues that have emerged in the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of the accident is whether the pilots, who were supposed to be watching airspeed indicators, were aware the plane was traveling at speeds so dangerously slow that it was at risk of losing lift and stalling.

Dismukes cautioned that it's too soon to reach conclusions about whether the three Asiana pilots who were in the Boeing 777's highly-automated cockpit were closely monitoring the plane's airspeed, ``but what was going on there in terms of monitoring systems obviously is going to be a crucial issue.''

Robert Sumwalt, an NTSB board member, said: "The question is, did the pilots recognize they were slow? And if not, why not?'' The board's investigation hasn't turned up any mechanical or computer problems with the plane, NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said at briefing last week.

The board has repeatedly investigated accidents in which pilots' failure to closely monitor key system was a contributing factor to the crash, Sumwalt said. In 2007, after an investigation of a business jet accident in Pueblo, Colo., the board recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration require that pilot training programs be modified to contain segments that teach and emphasize monitoring skills and how to manage multiple tasks, Sumwalt said.

Since then, the board has twice repeated the recommendation in response to other accidents, he said. The FAA, however, hasn't required airlines change their training programs, Sumwalt said. Instead, the agency advised airlines to revise their procedures to "promote effective monitoring'' if pilots are found to be inconsistent in their monitoring techniques, he said.

The board doesn't believe the advice goes far enough, and has categorized FAA's response as "unsatisfactory,'' Sumwalt said.

<![CDATA[Blood Drive at SFO to Help Asiana Airlines Crash]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2013 09:05:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/7-11-2013-sfo-runway-clean-up.jpg SFO is hosting a blood drive at 9 a.m. on Monday to help victims of the Asiana Airlines crash. Bob Redell reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Courts Will Treat Asiana Passengers Differently]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2013 18:10:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/173084446.jpg

 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) When the courts have to figure compensation for people aboard Asiana Airlines Flight 214, the potential payouts will probably be vastly different for Americans and passengers from other countries, even if they were seated side by side as the jetliner crash-landed.

An international treaty governs compensation to passengers harmed by international air travel from damaged luggage to crippling injuries and death.

The pact is likely to close U.S. courts to many foreigners and force them to pursue their claims in Asia and elsewhere, where lawsuits are rarer, harder to win and offer smaller payouts. Some passengers have already contacted lawyers.

"If you are a U.S. citizen, there will be no problem getting into U.S. courts. The other people are going to have a fight on their hands,'' said Northern California attorney Frank Pitre, who represents two Americans who were aboard the plane. Federal law bars lawyers from soliciting victims of air disasters for the first 45 days after the crash. Pitre said his clients called him.

Congress enacted that law in 1996 amid public anger over lawyers who solicited clients in the days immediately following the ValuJet Flight 592 crash in the Florida Everglades and the crash of TWA Flight 800 off the New York coast. National Transportation Safety Board attorney Benjamin Allen reminded attorneys of the rules in a mass email sent Thursday.

"We are closely monitoring the activities of attorneys following this accident, and will immediately notify state bar ethics officials and other appropriate authorities if impermissible activity is suspected,'' the message said.

The flight that broke apart recently at the San Francisco airport was carrying 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 64 Americans, three Canadians, three Indians, one Japanese, one Vietnamese and one person from France when it approached the runway too low and too slow.

The Boeing 777 hit a seawall before skittering across the tarmac and catching fire. Three girls from China were killed and 182 people injured, most not seriously. Two girls, Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, both 16, died right away. It is unclear, however, whether Ye Mengyuan died in the crash or in the chaotic aftermath.

Both girls' parents appeared at a vigil Saturday near the airport, and thanked, through a translator, the more than 100 people in attendance for their support, KGO-TV reported. The other victim killed, 15-year-old Liu Yipeng, died Friday at a hospital where she had been in critical condition since the July 6 crash.

The dozens who were seriously injured especially the few who were paralyzed can expect to win multimillion-dollar legal settlements, as long as their claims are filed in U.S. courts, legal experts said. Northern California attorney Mike Danko, who is consulting with several lawyers from Asia about the disaster, said any passenger who was left a quadriplegic can expect settlements close to $10 million if the case is filed in the United States.

Deaths of children, meanwhile, may fetch in the neighborhood of $5 million to $10 million depending on the circumstances in U.S. courts. In other countries, he explained, the same claims could be worth far less.

In 2001, a South Korean court ordered Korean Air Lines to pay a total of $510,000 to a woman whose daughter, son-in-law and three grandsons were killed in a 1997 crash in the U.S. territory of Guam that killed 228 people. Broken bones in plane accidents usually mean $1 million settlements in the Unites States and in the low five-figure range overseas, Danko said.

In 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration put the value of a human life at $6 million when it was contemplating the cost-benefit of a new ``cockpit resource management'' regulation. But again, Danko said, that estimate applies only in U.S. courts. Foreign courts can be expected to pay far smaller settlements.

In all, the South Korean government agency that regulates that country's insurance industry expects Asiana's insurers to pay out about $175.5 million total _ $131 million to replace the plane and another $44.5 million to passengers and the city of San Francisco for damage to the airport. Suh Chang-suk, an official at Financial Supervisory Service, declined to discuss how the watchdog agency calculated its estimate.

The international treaty is commonly referred to as the Montreal Convention because of the Canadian city where it was drafted. It offers international passengers five options for where to seek compensation: where they live, their final destination, where the ticket was issued, where the air carrier is based and the air carrier's principal place of business.

Foreign passengers who had roundtrip tickets to final destinations beyond the U.S. face stiff legal challenges to pursue their claims against the airline in the United States, where courts are more receptive to lawsuits and the payouts larger than in the courts of most other nations.

Asiana can also invoke the America legal doctrine of "forum non conveniens'' to argue that it's much more convenient for it to litigate the Asian victims' cases in Asia because all parties are based there. South Korean attorney Suh Dong Hee represented some of the victims of the 1997 Korean Air Lines crash. He said family members of the victims who pursued their case in the United States settled for as much as 100 times more than those who sued in South Korea.

Brian Havel, director of DePaul University's International Aviation Law Institute, said the convention does require the airlines to make immediate ``down payments'' to victims to help with medical expenses, travel costs and other inconveniences caused by the crash. ``Everyone will get something,'' Havel said.

``But who receives what does largely depend on where they qualify under the convention.'' However, Pitre and others say, the foreign passengers are still able to sue others who may have contributed to the accident, such as the plane's manufacturer, airport personnel and even, perhaps, the first responders.

Pitre said he and his clients are investigating whether Boeing Co. shoulders any responsibility for the crash, including potential design flaws in the plane's automated instruments or differences between first-class passengers' seatbelts, which come with a shoulder strap, and the seatbelts in the economy section, which are lap restraints only.

Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said the company buys seats from other companies and ``simply installs them.'' He also said the seat belt designs and configurations are mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Birtel declined to discuss the other issues Pitre raised.

Authorities said Friday that 15-year-old Liu Yipeng was struck by a fire truck, although it's not clear whether that killed her. Some passengers who called 911 immediately after the crash also complained that the emergency response took too long. Those third parties and others are open to lawsuits in the United States.

San Francisco officials said ambulances could not immediately come too close to the plane out of concern the aircraft would explode.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SFPD Chief: Passenger Struck by Fire Truck at Crash Site]]> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 15:42:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/students-asiana-crash-mengyuan-linjia.JPG

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr confirmed Friday that one of the two victims killed in Saturday’s Asiana plane crash at SFO was hit by a fire truck at the scene.

Suhr said investigators are still waiting for more information from the Coroner’s office to determine whether or not it played a role in her death.

Right now, it isn't clear whether Ye Meng Yuan, 16, was already dead or whether she was alive after Saturday's crash.
San Mateo County coroner Robert Foucrault said his initial results would likely be released sometime next week and would not comment on the police investigation.

Asiana Flight 214 collided with a rocky seawall just short of its intended airport runway on Saturday. Two people were killed and dozens of others injured although most suffered minor injuries.
Investigators have said the plane came in too low and slow.

Meng Yuan is on the left in the above photo in a picture that also shows the second victim who died in Saturday's crash landing.

Police spokesman Albie Esparza said the truck's driver did not see Meng Yuan because the area was covered in foam.

Esparza said the driver hit her as he moved over to reposition the truck to better battle the flames, adding that the passenger victim was found in tire tracks.

"Without a doubt a fire truck went over the victim," Esparza said.

San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said the fire department is still conducting its own internal investigation, but acknowledged that police have confirmed that a fire truck ran over the girl.

Talmadge said fire officials are waiting for the coroner's report  before releasing any details about the case. "Nonetheless it's distressing," she said.

The girl's family arrived in the Bay Area Monday.

A representative from the San Mateo County coroner's office met with them this week and told them that authorities were trying to determine whether the 16-year-old was struck and possibly killed by an emergency vehicle.

Ye and the other girl killed, 16-year-old Wang Lin Jia, were part of a group of Chinese students slated to attend a Southern California school with a group of 35 students in an exchange program.

The program was cancelled following the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which in addition to killing the two girls sent 180 of the plane's passengers to Bay Area hospitals.


View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.


<![CDATA[RAW VIDEO: Bayside Memorial Held for Asiana Crash Victims]]> Sat, 13 Jul 2013 17:50:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000003995010_722x406_37127747861.jpg A prayer ceremony was held Saturday for victims, passengers and families of those involved in the crash of Asiana Flight 214.]]> <![CDATA[SFO Reopens Runway After Deadly Plane Crash]]> Fri, 23 Aug 2013 09:30:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/161*120/runway6.jpg

Runway 28L, damaged in the deadly Asiana Airlines crash landing at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, reopened late Friday afternoon.

Authorities said the runway, which was closed for investigations and repairs, was back up and running at 5:05 p.m. That was two days ahead of earlier estimates.

A Southwest flight was the first plane to land on the reopened runway.

Earlier in the day, a bizarre site was seen on the runway as crews removed the fuselage of Asiana Flight 214.

The wreckage was cut apart and towed away in two large sections starting at 3:30 a.m. The entire process could be seen by travelers on other planes taking off and landing at the airport at the time.

SFO Spokesman Doug Yakel said just the removal of the plane is a big milestone for the airport.

At one point overnight, smoke could be seen coming from the site of the wreckage.  Yakel said cutting through all the metal of the fuselage was the likely source of smoke. He said crews saw smoke, but not fire and were able to quickly extinguish it.

Yakel said from that point on they were very cautious moving the sections of the plane because they didn’t want it to buckle.

The debris will be stored for the next week or so at a remote area of the airport. Asiana will ultimately determine what they want to do with it. 

Prior to opening the runway, SFO crews had to clear the area of debris and complete repairs for damage from the crash.

Some of the work on the runway included cleaning up spilled jet  fuel, checking electrical systems, repairing runway lights and fixing damage  to the seawall.

Before it reopened, Runway 28L was out of commission since the crash late Saturday morning, causing constant delays and cancellations for travelers this week.

Below is a time-lapse of the removal posted by Spectra Media Corp that shows the overnight process.

Also Friday, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr  confirmed that one of the three victims killed in Saturday’s crash was hit by a fire truck at the scene.

Suhr said investigators are still waiting for more information from the Coroner’s office to determine whether or not it played a role in her death.

A spokesman for the police said the area was covered in foam, a fire truck moved over to reposition itself to battle the flames and the passenger victim was found in tire tracks.

There is also new "forensic animation" of the crash which gives a correct scale of the crash landing.

You can see that below:

Late Thursday night, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Jackie Speier toured the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash site at San Francisco International Airport.

The congresswomen said they are considering new law requiring all pilots to be tested for drugs and alcohol after a crash. Currently, only US carriers are required for testing.

Federal investigators earlier in the day said the pilot who was flying the Asiana jet that crash-landed at SFO Saturday said his vision was not affected by the bright flash of light he saw ahead of the plane on his final approach into the airport.

Still, during the final descent of Flight 214's last 500 feet above ground, the flight crew made no comment on its lagging speed until just nine seconds before impact, flight data indicated, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

The first call to abort the landing came about three seconds before impact, and the second — from a different pilot — came about 1.5 seconds later, Hersman said.

There were no anomalies in the operation of the autopilot, auto-throttle or flight director systems in the plane, she added.

Three people died and 180 of the 307 passengers were hurt when Flight 214 slammed into a seawall Saturday at the end of the runway, after having come in too low and too slow. The impact ripped off the back of the plane and tossed three flight attendants and their seats onto the runway.


THE INTERVIEW: One-on-One with NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman


A dozen survivors remain hospitalized, half flight attendants, including three thrown from the jet. One of those six flight attendants was released from the hospital earlier this week.

NTSB investigators say the flight attendants were crucial in getting everyone off the plane safely.

Hersman said the pilot trainee told investigators he was blinded by a light at about 500 feet, which would have been 34 seconds before impact and the point at which the airliner began to slow and drop precipitously.

Hersman told NBC Bay Area in an interview Thursday that the flash was not a laser.

Crash survivors and their families visited the wreckage at SFO Wednesday night before the clean up began.

Ben Levy, who previously shared his first-hand account on the plane with NBC Bay Area,  was on the bus trip. He said some people cried while others seemed stunned.

Levy said he was hoping to talk to people who experienced the same life-changing event.

Plane wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at SFO. Image from NTSB press brief held Thursday, July 11, 2013."I think we are all connected for life," he said. "I want to get to know the people who were on the plane, it helps me grasp it better."

Levy is recovering from bruised ribs and cuts from the crash. He said he is feeling better, but wants to get a complete picture of what happened once Flight 214 came to a rest.

He was able to learn more details during the visit to the wreckage site.

"What did they go through? Which door they went through and how they felt. To me it was about connecting," he said.

Levy would also like to connect with flight attendant Yoon Hye Lee.

Many are calling her a hero for helping so many people off the plane.

Levy says it was Lee who came to the back of the plane where he was helping free people and told him to get out.

"She got me out. She came to the back of the plane grabbed me and pulled me out," Levy said. "She stayed later than I did."

Levy said there were many heroes on board Saturday. But he would like to see Lee before she heads back to Korea to share a calm moment together.

The flight originated in Shanghai and stopped over in Seoul before making the nearly 11-hour trip to San Francisco.

View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.


<![CDATA[New Animation Shows Asiana Flight 214 Crash]]> Fri, 12 Jul 2013 12:04:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/animation1.jpg

A new “forensic animation” of the crash landing of Asiana Flight 214 provides the most detailed look at the crash so far in exact scale, including actual speeds, altitudes and cockpit recordings.

The animation was provided by Eyewitness Animationas, which has been in business for 23 years reconstructing major accidents and crime scenes for purposes of investigation and litigation with a specialty in aviation accident reconstruction, according to the company.

It begins 17-second prior to imapct and shows the graphic of the plane in blue where the 777 should have been during its landing Saturday morning at SFO.

The animation shows when the pilot does pull up, it’s already too late.

The right main gear hits the sea wall first, then the tail just a split second later.

The animation shows the left engine breaking away and the plane becoming airborne briefly as it slides around the runway and on to the grass. Initially there is no fire which gives the passengers time to get out alive.

The animation also shows why doctors were treating so many spinal and neck injuries among economy passengers.

With only lap seat belts, many in coach had their head slammed into the seat in front of them.

Passengers in the business class section had harness seat belts. There were no spinal injuries in that section.

Photo Credit: Eyewitness Animations]]>
<![CDATA[The Face of the NTSB: Deborah Hersman]]> Fri, 12 Jul 2013 12:59:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hersman1.jpg

In the week since Asiana Flight 214 crash landed at San Francisco International Airport, the on-scene face of the government has been National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman, a blunt-talking investigator known for her poise and orderliness.

She doesn't fly planes, but she's the daughter of a Vietnam War fighter pilot and surrounds herself with expert airmen. She has a motorcycle license, but doesn't ride, because, as a 43-year-old mother of three boys, "I try to minimize the risks," she told NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai.

Her job requires her to show up at the sites of major air, rail and motor vehicle accidents. So seeing her in town often means something has gone wrong. But "I don't want people to think I'm associated with disasters," Hersman said.

There is an uplifting part of her job, she said: getting to see people respond to catastrophe in heroic and selfless ways -- San Franciscans included.

"Sometimes we see the very best of communities, the very best of people in these difficult circumstances, and I can tell you that I've certainly seen some of that here," she said.

Hersman has been an unmistakable force at the NTSB since she first arrived as a 39-year-old in 2004, a West Virginia-born Democrat nominated to the post by Republican President George W. Bush. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, reappointed her to a five-year term and named her chairman. During her tenure, she has overseen investigations of several major accidents, including the 2009 collision of two Metro trains in Washington, D.C., the fire inside a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Boston and the 2009 crash of a Colgan Air commuter plane near Buffalo. In each instance, she has showed a fearlessness in facing down the transportation industry and rival government agencies. She has irritated critics for her outspoken critique of safety lapses, and for the details she releases to the press.

The aggrieved include the Air Lines Pilots Association, which said this week it was "stunned by the amount of detailed operational data from on-board recorders" from Flight 214 released by the board "so soon into the investigation."

Hersman is unapologetic, but she also says she's looking for ways to do her job better. She says she listens to those around her.

"I learn from people who have more knowledge than I do," she said.

Hersman's background is on Capitol Hill, where she served as a senior aide to West Virginia Rep. Bob Wise and as a senior adviser to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. That's where she sharpened her skills as a bureaucrat, but also as a safety advocate, helping draft legislation overseeing the operation of motor carriers, pipelines and Amtrak.

Although she's known for her openness, Hersman stressed that it's too early to talk about what caused the July 6 crash in San Francisco.

"I know it feel like a long time for people, but we want to make sure we have a really full picture of what happened here before we reach any conclusions," she said.

That could take as long as a year.

But she added that if any safety issues arise before then, she and the board will be quick to issue recommendations on how to avoid similar accidents.

"This is obviously a high priority for us and we're going to be focusing a lot of resources on it and to get it done as quickly as possible," Hersman said.

Photo Credit: Liza Meak]]>
<![CDATA[Asiana Plane Fuselage Removed From SFO Runway]]> Fri, 12 Jul 2013 08:55:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/fuselage2.jpg The burned out plane was cut into two large pieces and slowly carted away from the SFO runway early Friday.

Photo Credit: Bob Redell]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Church Not Preaching to Asiana Flight Students]]> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 08:05:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/church-sfo-crash-students.jpg

Southern California was the ultimate destination for a group of Chinese students aboard the Asian Airlines jet that crashed at San Francisco International Airport Saturday.

They were going to attend a summer camp hosted by West Valley Christian Church and School in West Hills.

Amidst reports that some of the children’s parents in tightly controlled Communist China didn’t know the summer camp would be held at a Christian church, West Valley administrators explained they had no plans to evangelize to the students.

“I think there could have been a perception of, you know they were going to be staying in all church homes and being at a bible camp and that's not true,” said Derek Swales, West Valley Christian Church and School administrator.


Chinese authorities say they will review future student trips and that could jeopardize two camps scheduled at the church later this summer.

The church will hold a vigil Thursday for Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia the two 16 year-old students who died in the crash.

Church officials said students from 35 Chinese families were scheduled to participate in the summer program, which would have included a weekend tour of San Francisco before the group was to travel to the San Fernando Valley church.

The program would have provided English classes and courses on American culture, sightseeing tours and visits to Southern California universities.

Because of the crash the trip was canceled. None of the students followed through and attended the camp.

<![CDATA[Asiana Plane Crash Survivor Shares Photos of SFO Scene]]> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 15:40:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/2013-07-06+11.44.11.jpg A collection of photos taken moments after the fiery Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash landing at SFO.

Photo Credit: Ben Levy]]>
<![CDATA[AUDIO: 911 Calls Reveal Drama of Asiana Crash]]> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 15:39:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/0708-ntsb1.jpg

The California Highway Patrol has released audio of the emergency calls related to the deadly Asiana Airlines Flight 214 plane crash at San Francisco International Airport.

The audio begins with a call from a man hiking on a trail just outside of Pacifica. He notifies the dispatcher of the crash landing at SFO.

“We just heard a giant explosion and we're with a couple other hikers and they saw that an airplane had crashed right there at SFO,” the hiker said.

Another call comes from a passenger who was on the plane and describes the moments after survivors were able to escape the plane.


"We've been down on the ground, I don't know, 20 minutes, a half-hour," one woman said from the runway. "There are people waiting on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries."

"We're almost losing a woman here," she said as a 911 dispatcher tried to reassure her that help was on the way. "We're trying to keep her alive."

San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said Thursday that some passengers who called 911 may not have immediately seen ambulances at the scene because they were dispatched to a nearby staging area as first responders assessed who needed to be taken to the hospital.
"There is a procedure for doing it,'' Talmadge told the Associated Press. "You don't cause more chaos in an already chaotic situation. You don't do that with 50 ambulances running around all over the place.''
Within 18 minutes of receiving word of the crash, five ambulances and more than a dozen other rescue vehicles were at the scene or en route, in addition to airport fire crews and crews from San Mateo County and other agencies already on the scene, Talmadge told AP. "Our response was immediate,'' Talmadge said. "It's not what you may see in the movies. That's not how a real-life response is to a large-scale incident.''

Also in the recordings, a woman reports a severely-burned victim of the crash needing immediate help, and that there were not enough emergency crews on scene at the time of her call.

“We're at the San Francisco International Airport. We just got in a plane crash, and there's a bunch of people who still need help and there's not enough medics out here," the woman said.

"There is a woman out here on the street, on the runway, who is pretty much burned very severely on the head, and we don't know what to do," she said. "She is severely burned. She will probably die soon if we don't get any help."

Another passenger, who sounded very calm, told a 911 dispatcher that the plane had just crashed upon landing and that “we need some help here as soon as possible.”

“There’s a bunch of fire trucks and a couple of ambulances, I see one or two, but there’s a lot of people hurting on the ground,” the main said.

Asked by the dispatcher what runway was he on, the man said, “I don’t know the runway, we literally just ran out of the airplane."

Twenty of the crash victims were still in the San Francisco-area hospitals on Wednesday. Four of them were in critical condition, a child among them.

For full coverage of the Asiana Airlines tragedy, visit our Flight 214 Crash Landing page.

Hear more of the 911 tapes below:


View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Asiana Crash Tests Stanford Hospital’s Emergency Preparedness]]> Wed, 10 Jul 2013 17:51:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/7-10-2013-stanford-hospital-story.jpg

Only four injured passengers remaining at Stanford Hospital, but on the day of the Asiana Airlines crash, 55 passengers were treated there.

NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro got a rare behind-the-scenes look at how the emergency room handled so many patients at once.

Minutes after Asiana Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International Airport, the team at Stanford Hospital began preparing for injured patients.

One-hundred-fifty doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists poured into the emergency room, and teams began setting up a triage area in the parking lot outside the emergency room.

A little over an hour after the crash, the first patients arrived in the ER. A total of 55 passengers from Asiana Flight 214 were treated at Stanford Hospital, the largest volume of patients the ER has received at once in more than 20 years.

Dr. Bob Norris treated many of them.

"The most severe injuries were severe lacerations, inner abdominal injuries,” Dr. Norris said. “The spinal fractures were the worst.”

Dr. Norris says there is no doubt the drills the hospital performed just three weeks before the crash helped the hospital give the injured patients the best and fastest care possible.

Photo Credit: Stanford Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[Next Phase for SFO Crash Includes Lawsuits]]> Wed, 10 Jul 2013 08:27:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/198*120/BOmrTBwCcAARecz.jpg-large.jpeg

Preliminary reports from victims of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 plane crash at SFO raise one very big question for Burlingame attorney Frank Pitre.

Petri has battled airlines in court a number of times before and won millions of dollars - going back to the 1980s. He says there is one way to get the attention of the airlines.

"I think the issue is whether a lawsuit brought is going to change corporate culture," he said.

"You start to compare injuries suffered in one area (first class) with dual restraints and those who did not have it, and you see if there's a difference in the nature and type of injuries," Pitre said.

Pitre said he's not certain only first-class passengers had the kind of safety harness we all take for granted in our cars but he has heard reports similar to the one from Eugene Rah, who was sitting first class in the Asiana flight.

"The impact was so powerful, if I did not have that one more strap going across my chest I probably would've hit the ceiling of the plane," Rah said.

But bio mechanics experts say the extra restraints in first class are installed because there is more room for passengers to be thrown about. In coach, the seat in front of you prevents that.

The Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman, was asked about the different levels of restraints.

"We have to look at the specs of the aircraft from Boeing in 2006 and see if any changes were made by Asiana," she said.

But whether shoulder harnesses would be a true safety addition in airliners is in dispute.

Dr. Jeffrey Manley, chief of neurosurgery at San Franciscos General Hospital, tells USA Today he sees many victims of the crash having injuries from being flung forward and back again over their lap belts.

"If you put in the shoulder belts, it might just move the injuries up further," Manley said. "Your head weighs a tremendous amount."

Pitre said before it's over, he may sue the airline, Asiana, the company that built the plane, Boeing, the company that made the flight instruments, and even San Francisco International Airport.

"As information starts to widen, the field of who the suspects are will start to widen," Pitre said.


View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.


Photo Credit: NTSB]]>
<![CDATA[Air Instructor Reacts to Flight 214 Pilot Interviews]]> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 12:56:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/flight214expert.jpg

The NTSB has completed interviews with three of the four pilots flying Asiana Airlines Flight 214 when it crashed at SFO on Saturday and a local air instructor has insight into their stories of the last minute before the crash.

According to NTSB Chairman, Deborah Hersman, the instructor pilot overseeing the pilot landing the plane said in his interview that at five hundred feet he realized the plane was too low and instructed the pilot to pull back.

Black box data shows it was at this point that the plane dipped below the recommended landing speed and continued to slow. The data also shows the crew didn't react until 26 seconds later.

Max Trescott, an independent flight instructor,  told NBC Bay Area it appears they failed to monitor the speed.

"Every pilot knows from day one you have to focus on airspeed," Trescott said.

According to their interviews, the pilots told the NTSB they assumed the auto throttles were maintaining the speed.

"We all know about assuming and in this case it turned out to be a fatal assumption," Trescott said. "It’s essential for pilots, especially the pilot monitoring, to make sure the speed doesn’t get too slow regardless whether auto throttles are on or not."

"They made an assumption and were unable to notice that (until) it was too late," he said.

Hersman said the auto throttles were "armed" meaning they could have been in a position to be engaged and maintain speed, but they obviously did not do the job.

Whether this was a mechanical or human error remains to be determined.

"I'm sure the NTSB will be looking into that," Trescott said.  "There's no question that the auto throttles are the big insight that we gained today and probably the key to what went on."

Hersman also revealed Tuesday the plane had lateral, sideways movement shortly before touching ground.

Trescott said this could have served as a distraction to the pilots.

"It's quite possible the crew was focused on the deviation and failed to notice the decaying airspeed," he said. "The mistake was being low and slow and at that point too late to save the aircraft.."