Boeing plane in SF crash known for safety record

SEATTLE (AP) - For the past 18 years, the Boeing 777 has been known as one of the safest commercial planes in the air.

The twin-engine wide-bodied jet had only one major incident before a 777 crashed in San Francisco Saturday, killing two passengers.

That came on Jan. 17, 2008, when a British Airways 777 lost power and crashed short of the runway at London's Heathrow Airport, The Seattle Times ( reported in Sunday's newspaper.

A landing gear collapsed and a strut pierced the passenger floor. Apart from one broken leg there were no serious injuries. Investigators found a buildup of ice in the fuel lines caused a power failure.

Boeing says since entering service in June 1995, the long-range plane has flown about 5 million flights, accumulating more than 18 million flight hours.

"The 777 has a fantastic record," said Tom Haueter, who retired last year from the National Transportation Safety Board, where he was the head of aviation accident investigations.

Saturday's crash at San Francisco International Airport of an Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, "bears an eerie similarity" to the 2008 crash, said John Nance, a veteran airline pilot who lives in Washington state and serves as an aviation expert for ABC News.

Nance said the crew of the British Airway flight got no response when they pushed the plane to full throttle at an altitude of 600 feet as they approached the airport.

On Saturday, the Asiana flight was coming in "too low and too slow," indicating a possible flight-control problem, Nance said, basing his observations on reports the plane hit the breakwater and that its nose was pointed high in the air at the time of the crash.

Haueter, the former NTSB official, told The Associated Press he was doubtful the Asiana crash will be linked to the same icing problem that caused the British Airways accident since changes were made after that crash to prevent further incidents.


Information from: The Seattle Times,

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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