CHICAGO (CBS) — A local aviation expert said he believes the fiery San Francisco plane crash that killed two people and injured dozens more was likely the result of pilot error.
Former Air Force Colonel and aviation attorney John Hoff said Asiana Airlines Flight 214 touched down tail first, about 1,000 feet short of its target area, hitting the seawall outside San Francisco International Airport, likely because of a mistake by the pilots.
“I heard a briefing this morning that said they came in much too high initially,” he said.
Hoff speaks from experience; as a pilot, aviation attorney, and an adjunct professor at John Marshall Law School.
He used a model of a Boeing 777 – the same type of aircraft involved in the crash – to demonstrate what he thinks happened in San Francisco on Saturday.
“It looks like they got below what’s called the glideslope, that’s that imaginary line that the eyeball looks at to the touchdown zone,” he said. “As they came in too low, the nose pitched up, and they hit that breakwater about mid-airplane.”
Hoff said he believes the impact sheared off the bottom of the plane, and caused it to lose its tail, leaving the pilots unable to control the jet as it skidded along the ground.
He said the National Transportation Safety Board likely will focus on what happened in the cockpit in the minutes before the ill-fated landing, and subsequent fire. He also credited the flight’s cabin crew for getting people off the plane quickly.
Hoff said the crash will have legal consequences for Asiana Airlines, because airlines owe their passengers the highest standard of care, making them liable for almost any and all injuries from a crash.
As for the Boeing 777 itself, Hoff said the aircraft has an unbelievably strong safety record.