About that crash at SF Airport

When my husband and I first heard about this crash, I think the first thing that came into our minds was pilot error.  We have had quite a discussion over the past couple of days about the crash. Please note here that my husband is a qualified aeronautical engineer and former aeronautical engineer officer in the RAAF.

Over the past few years I have been in the habit of watching the series on aircrash investigations and I have learned a lot from those documentaries. In this way I have some understanding about how some crashes might happen.

To allay fears of conspiracy cover-up, this crash was not due to a bomb going off. The best that we can guess at the moment is that the pilot was coming in too low for the landing in San Francisco. As a result the wheels of the aircraft tipped the sea wall, this led to the tailplane coming off, and it immediately led to the deaths of the two 16 year old Chinese students. After the tailplane sheared off, the plane then flipped a few times. This accounts for the high level of injuries inside the plane. The fire was due to damage to the fuel tanks.

There will be a detailed investigation. The investigators will check the flight path records from the POV of Air Traffic Control. If there was any chance that another flight landed immediately prior to this flight and caused any form of turbulence this will be noted. If not, then it was clearly pilot error. What needs to be discovered is why the pilot made such an error on this particular occasion.


5 responses to “About that crash at SF Airport

  1. I am keeping an eye on this story. It continues to look like pilot error was the cause of the crash. The pilot was relatively inexperienced. He had not experience flying into SF in the first place. If I see relevant information I will make this a sticky and then post relevant links.

    Either way, in this case it was not the lack lack of maintenance, or for that matter inexperienced people doing the maintenance, or sloppy maintenance of the aircraft. It is a matter of pilot error. The investigation will give the full story.


  2. On 6 August 1997, the crew of Korean Air Flight 801 was unable to see the runway during final approach for a night landing in Guam . They initiated a missed approach , but then crashed into a low hill, killing 228 people. A combination of pilot error and the ILS system at Guam airport being temporarily out of service for maintenance work were blamed.


    • Thank you very much for providing this information regarding the last known air crash from Korean Airlines.

      I have been in deep discussion with my husband most of the week about the circumstances surrounding the crash. We both agree that it was pilot error. He is the one who is the aeronautical engineer, and I have no such qualifications :), however I can pose questions so that I am learning more and more about what might have happened.

      In this case, the most likely scenario is the fact that the pilot, although experienced, he was inexperienced with this particular aircraft. This leads to some additional problems because (a) the training pilot was also on his first flight to San Francisco. (b) the training pilot lacked seniority and possibly felt he could not point out errors to someone who is senior (c) the type of aircraft that the pilot had previously flown is also relevant. If he had been flying A380s for example, there are some differences with the instruments etc to be taken into consideration.

      On the other hand, what we do know or at least is becoming apparent is that the plane was too low for the approach and the speed was too slow. These two things are critical in regard to how the accident occurred in the first place.


  3. I have a friend who is deeply aeronautical and he tells me the same story as your husband. I do not have the credentials to dispute them, in detail. However, I remain convinced that there was something unnatural going on. For instance, the pilots are now reporting they have a momentary bright light in their eyes. Whether or not true, I do not know. Whether or not this is the whole story I do not know. All I know is that it would take a pilot error of incredibly amateurish proportions to cause what happened. Just like with TWA 800 – there is much mystery here. And I have zero confidence that The Authorities will get to the bottom of it and report the whole truth.