NEW YORK (PIX11) – It’s obvious from the amateur video that something just wasn’t right about Flight 214’s landing approach in San Francisco.
Aviation expert Barry Schiff says air speed is critical — and the flight data recorders indicate Flight 214 didn’t have enough of it.
“The air speed began to sink or go below the minimum speed of 137 knots. It tells us that if the pilots had noticed that the air speed was decaying, they could have easily moved the throttles forward, and preserved that airspeed. The big mystery about this flight is why they didn’t do that,” said Schiff.
The plane came in some 40 miles-an-hour slower that it should have before its tail struck the sea wall.
It’s not likely, however, that the San Francisco runway’s proximity to the water contributed to the crash, or increased the difficulty of the landing.
LaGuardia, which is also on the water, has seen its share of incidents. There was US Air Flight 405, which barreled off LaGuardia’s peninsula like runway 13 as it tried to take off in a snow snowstorm in March, 1992. Nineteen people died in that crash — which investigators later determined was caused by ice on the plane’s wings.
Then there’s San Francisco’s land based “Glide Scope Indicator” system – which was out of service during airport construction.
It’s not being looked at as a major factor in the crash because there were other working electronic systems in place, both on the ground – and in the plane — to help it land safely in the summertime and under clear skies.
So while investigators try to rule out mechanical failure – they’re also looking into the possibility of human error.
Former US Airways Chesley Sullenberger – who performed what may be the most spectacular emergency landing of all time on the Hudson River – says it’s too early to blame the pilot’s limited experience – just 43 hours in the cockpit of a Boeing 777.
“Everyone, at some point, is new to an airplane. Even if you have 10,000 hours, there is still that time when you are new to a particular type of airplane,“ said Sullenberger.