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tv   Caught on Camera  MSNBC  July 6, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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additional information. >> reporter: any chance it was pilot error? >> are there any other questions? >> reporter: is this a relatively new aircraft? >> the question is, is it this a relatively new aircraft. this is a boeing 777. and i mentioned that boeing will likely be one of the parties to our investigation, and we work very closely with entities who have expertise to bring that to the investigation. the 777 has been around for a while. it carries several hundred passengers. and we'll certainly be looking at everything when we get there. we have not determined what the focus of this investigation is yet. we have to get on scene to really begin to collect the factual information, to do the documentation, and to draw on our experts who will be putting together information while we're en route. one more question. >> reporter: is there any chance it was pilot error? >> the question is, is there any chance that this was pilot error? like i said before, we haven't left washington yet. we still have a lot of work to do. everything is on the table at this point.
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we have to gather the facts before we reach any conclusions. ntsb's investigations are very thorough. and we will gather information and provide that information to the media as soon as possible. thank you very much. all right. ntsb chairman debbie hersman there, telling us just as bob eager indicated that this is sort of a predepartured news conference. we did not get a great deal of new information there. she did say that the ntsb is working, obviously, with the faa. the ntsb will also be working with their counterparts in korea that they are deploying right now. they should be in san francisco in just a few hours to gather the facts. she did confirm that that plane crashed on landing. runway 28. she also mentioned that a number of subject matter experts, bob hager, would be joining her.
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operations, human performance, airport, aircraft. what are these subject matter experts, bob? who are they? >> they're staff people from the national transportation safety board who are expert in those various areas. but they are also joined by others from outside the ntsb and the government. so typically, if you have a group that's going to look at the engines, you'd have somebody representing the engine manufacturers. you'd have somebody representing the airline. so they have these other people who are sort of semiofficial parts of the investigation. and the groups that she named, you can't discern anything from the subject matters that she clicked off, operations, human performance, survival factors. that's all fairly routine. but it translates into human performance would be looking at how the crew -- were they at fault in this or not. the operations means the
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mechanical parts of the plane. survival factors will be very important, because that's how did so many manage to escape. and we have reason to believe from the preliminary reports that a lot of people got out of this without injuries, and certainly the early reports do not indicate a huge number of fatalities. so they'll want to know all the things that went into that, how other people managed to get out of there without serious injuries. airport operations means how quickly the airport responded after the plane crashed. to get to the scene. and what role that played. so those are generally what those committees would be looking at. but as i say, you can't discern anything from the way she ticked them off or the in order which she ticked them off about what their thinking is now. it's just too early. >> bob, before we heard from debbie hersman there, i was
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struck by something i heard from one of the local fire officials there in the bay area. we were listening and watching some of the local coverage there. and he indicated that it appears as if this plane was evacuated in anywhere between two and three minutes. that seems staggering, that it only takes two or three minutes to evacuate a plane. >> especially when you think of when you land normally and how long you're sitting in your seat waiting to get out of the aircraft. but it's a whole different ballgame when it's an emergency like this. so back when the aircraft is originally certified, so this is long ago in the case of the 777, you but they put it through an extensive series of tests where they actually have live bodies on the plane, and they sound a go signal, and everybody rushes for the exits. and the crews practice managing people getting to the exits and so forth. all that is -- you have to show that you can evacuate the plane actually in a minute and a half,
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90 seconds. so that's nearly impossible task. but it has to be done for the plane to be certified. now, in the real world, getting people out in 90 seconds probably is not going to happen. but here if they did have three, four minutes, i can understand that they were able to get so many people out. and think of the plane that landed in the hudson. and is floating on the water there, and those people are scrambling out. it was quite remarkable to me that people were able to get out and stand on the wing so quickly there. >> bob hager, longtime transportation correspondent for nbc news, joining me right now. we are starting to hear from some of the area hospitals about precisely home folks they are taking in, and the condition of some of those folks. we'll try to pass along some of that information to you right now. according to the mills peninsula health center, they told us by
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phone they have received eight patients. one of those eight patients is in surgery right now. the rest are being evaluated. a spokesperson for dean fryer of california pacific medical center also told us on the phone that five passengers have been admitted. at this point, the conditions of those passengers are also unknown. and we also a short time ago heard from san francisco general. we're told that san francisco general admitted 10 patients. 10 patients from san francisco general at last check at least. they told us the condition of those patients -- we don't have the condition right now. we did hear from the white house a short time ago. the president -- president obama remainsa the camp david this evening, but he did -- there was a statement issued. that statement in part, quote, the president has been made aware of the situation, and his team will update him as new information becomes available. we will continue to stay in constant contact with our
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federal, state, and local partners as they respond to this event. again, according to our affiliate on the ground there in the bay area, kntv, two people are dead. up to 70 are hurt. we're still waiting on a precise number regarding exactly how many people were aboard that airplane. but this much we can tell you. that it was an asiana airlines aircraft. it was headed here from seoul, south korea. bound from seoul. it departed seoul yesterday at 4:35 p.m. it was scheduled to arrive at terminal one in san francisco, scheduled to arrive at 11:15 local time. just after 2:00 here on the east coast. as that plane approached runway 28, something happened. at this point, obviously, we don't know what that something is. but we do know according to sources at least that the pilot did not make a distress call. there was no distress call from
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the pilot. passengers were able to jump down those emergency inflatable slides to safety. we saw in fact -- we saw some pictures earlier of some passengers doing just that. and right now, as i'm sort of recapping what happened, you just saw -- this is the picture i was just telling you about here, the passengers who managed to -- a number of them managed to deplane. we've heard from a number of witnesses over the course of the afternoon. some -- one of the witnesses said that she saw at least 20. we heard from another witness said that he saw a couple of dozen folks get off that plane. but, again, at this point, we don't have a hard count on just how many were onboard or how many were hurt. but if we can go back to that live picture, guys, if we can go back to that live picture we just had on the left side of the screen in the larger box. is this the live -- yeah. if you can -- and we should note for our viewers that we're not controlling this camera. we can't have it zoom in on precise points on your screen there. but it appears as if -- appears
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being the operative word -- that there are a stream of officials right now who appear to be approaching that aircraft. we heard from a local fire official a short time ago, courtesy of our affiliate koechbl. we heard from a local fire official that they were continuing to hose that plane down in an attempt to cool the plane down. so perhaps they were doing that so these folks -- you know what? right now as we zoom in closer, it looks as if they aren't heading toward the plane but they are conducting some sort of methodical search there between the two runways. but, again, tom costello telling us a couple of hours ago that according to federal sources, at this point there's no indication, no indication of terrorism. right now this looks like -- looks like just an awful accident. we heard from the weather channel a few hours ago.
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conditions in the area were for all practical intents and purposes, conditions were fine. about 65 degrees. five to 10 miles per hour in terms of wind. not a lot of clouds in the sky. there was no fog as well. this is a picture -- that picture that we just showed you there, that was a picture that was sent to us from a woman whose father was on that plane. that's the picture. and this is of -- of the images and pictures that we have seen come into our newsroom over the past few hours, this is perhaps the -- the most startling, if you will. and you can see closely there, if you look at the middle of your screen toward the bottom, you can see the flames and the cabin of that plane. you can also see -- again, it looks like we're looking at the left side of the plane here. you can also see those inflatable slides. you can see two of them deployed there on the left side of the plane.
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and you can also see lots and lots of smoke billowing from what's left of the fuselage there. this is the latest update from san francisco general. san francisco general hospital now tells us that eight adults and two children have been taken at that hospital. eight adults, two children have been admitted. adults range anywhere from 20 to 40. adults are 20 to 40. i'm just reading this here so bear with me. all of them, all 10, are in critical condition. they have set up tents outside the hospital to accommodate walk-ins and other patients. we are expecting an update from san francisco general here at any moment. but again, at this point it appears as if san francisco general has received 10 patients, all of those patients, six females, four males, all of them are in critical condition. eight adults, two children.
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according to our affiliate on the ground, kntv, two people are dead. at least 70, again, at least 70 are hurt. we are waiting on another update from the san francisco international airport. we haven't heard from them now in about an hour and 10 minutes. that was the last time we got an update. right now, though, you are looking at -- if you look closely here, and, again, i am not -- nor do i profess to be -- an aviation expert. but i can tell you that looks like it could very well be the tail of that plane. we heard from a number of eyewitnesses earlier who said that they saw the plane -- they saw the tail of the plane clip the runway and bounce or roll several times. but, again, that looks like -- and we just saw the south korean flag there emplablazoned on the side of the tail. but it looks like that could be the tail of that aircraft that
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we have been looking at from above for the last several hours here. bob hager standing by. bob, are you able to -- >> i am, yeah. that's clearly the tail. that's the tail all right, sure. >> ok. i didn't want to overstep my bounds here. but, again, it looked like -- and the proximity of that tail, it looks like -- >> that pan shot, it's a long way from the aircraft. >> yeah. >> so the plane moves a considerable distance after the tail comes off. >> bob, have you ever seen anything like this? >> oh, yes. no. that sort of pattern, where the plane when it initially hits leaves some vital part, and then skids on down the runway, sure. that's very typical of a crash on landing. >> we should also note here for our viewers, which is probably in terms of vantage point, this is the widest shot we've gotten in several hours. runway 28 l.
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that's where that aircraft was trying to land essentially. and it crash landed off to the left. and the plane is sitting right now to the left of the runway. you just saw it there. and what bob and i have deduced is the tail of that plane you just saw there a good distance away. but not so far away, bob, from that seawall that we've been talking about for a few hours of the it's not far at all from the seawall, if you look closely there. >> sure. the tail is right there. so it looks like he probably clipped the seawall or if not, the runway right by the seawall. and then as he -- as the plane skids forward, it's off to the left of the runway itself. so it's off there in the dirt alongside the runway. but he's supposed to land a thousand peopfeet down the rule. the rule is a thousand feet down
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the runway. so where the tail is is short of the runway, never mind the thousand feet he's supposed to have before he comes in. kpleer clearly, he's out of control there because the nose went up and the tail tipped back. so that presents the normal kind of landing and causes that tail strike. >> peter goals is back with us, managing director of the ntsb. pete, again and pardon me if i'm -- >> thank you very much. >> thank you, bob. >> peter, are you there? >> yes, i am. >> pete, i can't recall whether you're able to see those images. >> i have not seen the latest ones. but from what you've described, it's fairly common, that when a plane is on its belly coming down, it's going to behave in that manner. but, you know, the critical thing, i think, that people ought to be focusing on is just
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how robust this aircraft is in this accident. you know, it's pretty extraordinary that so many people divide this difficult landing -- i mean, this accident. it really is something. >> pete, to what can we attribute the fact that that plane, as you put it, is for the most part fairly intact? i mean, is that just a function of advances that have been made in engineering over the past few decades? is that a furchgnction of -- anm sure it's too early to know this -- is it a function of pilot expertise? >> it's a function of the faa and the ntsb learning from previous accidents. we look at these disasters, and at each accident, and say what is it that we can improve upon so that the anchoring of aircraft seats now have to meet
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a standard called 16g, which means 16 times the force of gravity so that we found previous to this passengers were being severely injured and killed because they were being ejected from their seats. also the interior of the planes no longer -- you know, in a fire, no longer emit toxic fumes. it's the design improvements over the past 20 years have been extraordinary, and it's resulted in very, very safe aircraft. >> one of the things that struck us earlier was a local fire official there on kntv was talking about the response to this crash landing. and he indicated that at this point, it looks like it took the
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crew aboard the plane somewhere between two and three minutes to evacuate. >> well, you know, every aircraft must be as part of its certification, meet some very tough evacuation criteria. if you can't exit the plane in 90 seconds, your plane is not going to be certified. and, you know, this is something where, you know, the much maligned flight attendants and cabin crews, you know, people tend to be highly critical of them sometimes. but this is where -- this is where they stand up and do their jobs. these men and women inside the cabin are trained to get you out of that plane within 90 seconds. and that's extraordinary. >> i guess there are probably some folks watching and listening right now who will think twice next time they're on a plane and they decide not to listen to the flight attendant.
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>> you know, you think you've heard it a thousand times. >> oh, yeah. >> i can tell you, i fly a great deal. i always count the rows of seats to the exit row. and i always try and familiarize myself with the interior of the aircraft. people ought to pay attention. and all it takes is an event like this, where you find that the -- where i'm sure that we're going to find that the cabin crew did an extraordinary job. >> yeah. and you hit the nail on the head there. i was just about to raise that point. you know, flight attendants, there are a lot of folks who think that flight attend apts are aboard those planes to respond to every beck and call of the passengers, get them drinks and pillows and stuff. but at the end of the day, this is -- this is their primary responsibility. >> they are the first lines of
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defense and the first line of protection after an accident. they're the people you're going to look to to get out of that plane alive. and, you know, they are not called on thankfully very often. but when they are, they perform admirably. >> peter, by the way, peter on the phone right now. former managing director of the ntsb. again, the ntsb has deployed from washington, d.c., headed to san francisco. they already have some investigators on the ground. but they are taking the cavalry from the capital to the west coast. you heard from chairman debbie hersman a few moments ago, indicated they should be on the scene in just a few hours. right now, and this may be tough for you, peter, but right now we are watching what appears to be -- and, again, we can't zoom in on this because we're not controlling this helicopter. but what appears to be a line of officials who at one point were walking the width of the field,
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where that plane is resting, and now it appears as if -- again, it looks like from at least this vantage point there are close to two dozen of them maybe. now they are over by the seawall peering into the water. any idea what those eurouniform folks might be doing? >> certainly. they're searching -- first of all, they are doing, you know, a detailed search for any piece of evidence. you know, they are doing a search perhaps for victims. there may be some unaccounted for numbers. it may just be a function of the chaos. but there also may be some people missing. but they want to make sure that that accident scene is completely documented, and i think it's a wise choice. and it's standard procedure. >> 19, 21, 22 -- right now i
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just counted 25, 26 or so. and they -- close to 30 actually. and right now, peter, it does look like they are probably doing precisely what you just said they were doing, scouring that area. >> sure. they're looking for any anomaly. in an accident investigation, one of the things you look for, or what are the first pieces that come off the plane. you know, that tells you where the event started. and so you look for the earliest pieces. and, you know, if you're looking into the bay, they may be looking -- you know, are there pieces of the aircraft below the seawall. i mean, it's the beginning of tying down the accident scene so that when the ntsb gets there in force, they can start this
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investigation. and i think they'll be pretty quick with figuring out prel preliminarily what happened. >> peter, stay with me for a little bit if you can. at some point, we do expect to get some more information from the airport in san francisco. we heard from them about an hour and 20 minutes ago. but let's run down a list first of all of things we do not know. at this point we do not know officially how many people were aboard that aircraft. we don't know exactly how many people were onboard. there are reports from kntv that at least two are dead. up to 70 are injured. but, again, that number has not been confirmed officially. that's from kntv. so we don't know the number of dead or the number of people hurt as well. so we're still waiting for official information with regards to some important parts of this crash landing.
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but what we do know, and what we can tell you at this point, is what you are looking at right now is the aftermath of a plane crash. that plane from seoul, south korea, it took off yesterday afternoon around 4:30 from seoul. bound for san francisco. it was scheduled to land around 11:15. shortly before it landed, obviously something went horribly wrong. we also know based on reports from meteorologists on our air, reports that we've read as well, we heard from the weather channel a few hours ago, that conditions in san francisco were just fine. in an area known in an area famous for fog, there was no fog today. and there was also no rain. it was about 65 degrees. the winds somewhere between 5 and 10 miles per hour. but what you're looking at right now is the aftermath of a plane crash and the beginnings of an investigation.
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we're going to take a quick break here at msnbc. we'll reset right after this. [ lee ] now that i'm getting older some things are harder to do. this is not a safe thing to do. be careful babe. there should be some way to make it easier [ doorbell rings ] let's open it up and see what's cookin'. oh i like that. look at this it's got a handle on it. i don't have to climb up. this yellow part up here really catches a lot of the dust. did you notice how clean it looks? morty are you listening? morty? [ morty ] i'm listening! i want you to know lookin' good, flo! feelin' good! feelin' real good! [ engine revs ]
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welcome back. we continue to monitor this breaking news in san francisco. you are looking at what's left of a boeing 777 operated by asiana airlines. it crashed as it was trying to land around 11:15 local time. asiana airlines headed here from seoul, south korea. it was bound for san francisco. that airport shut down for the most part. although two runways have reopened in the past two hours. but planes that were set to land there were diverted. the airport has told folks or has asked folks to call their local airlines, if you are supposed to be picking up someone from san francisco. our affiliate on the ground there, kntv, reporting that two people are dead. up to 70 folks have been hurt.
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we are starting to hear from hospitals in the area. there are a number of hospitals in the bay area. my colleagues are standing by with a little bit more information about what precisely these hospitals are saying about admissions. >> we are hearing from several hospitals. san francisco general among them. received six female and four male patients. eight adults and two children. the adults are from age 20 to 40. we are told they are all in critical condition. san francisco general has set up tents outside the hospital e.r. to accommodate walk-in and other patients. they are also tweeting. they are saying they are expecting less critically injured patients from the airline accident to arrive at this point. we are also hearing, let's see, as i read down, we are hearing from cal pacific. they have five patients, all with minor injuries. no new information on ages or nature of those injuries, but they are all being called minor injuries. that is good news. all are expected to be released soon. ucsf. two patients, stable condition.
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one male, one female. no information on the ages or the nature of those injuries. i mentioned tweets. we're getting a number of tweets from area authorities, one including the b.a.r.t. system, the trains, saying that they are on time and they are stopping at the airport. also from the ntsb, we heard from them earlier in a press conference. but they also sent this out. they are sending separate teams to investigate the san francisco airport crash for quality of operations, human operations, as well as the aircraft. i know that we heard from tom costello, our airline expert, and probably will hear from him again tonight. but what he said is this particular 777 is a relatively new plane. it's about six years old. and it has a very good safety record overall. with only two accidents involving the 777 prior to today. no fatalities. so it really does have a very good safety record. we're also hearing from the
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manufacturers, which are of course boeing and also pratt and whitney says its engines this today's accident, they manufactured those engines. both are offering their full cooperation as the ntsb investigates. >> melissa, thank you. kntv reporting at least two people are dead, up to 70 have been hurt. reached via form, the coroner's office tells msnbc they are not releasing any comments right now. but they statement could be available by 8:00. so we could get something 8:00 eastern here from the coroner's office. jay rawlings is joining me by telephone. he is a former american airlines pilot. jay, first of all, are you watching -- are you looking at what we're looking at right now wh ? >> i'm not looking at a tell vision, but i have been briefed
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who happened. >> according to sources, this particular pilot did not make a distress call before this crash landing. and jay, just so you know and our viewers know, right side of the screen there is a news conference in san francisco that is set to start at any moment. that news conference, by the way, we're told that mayor edwin lee will be there, the san francisco fire chief as well, joanne hayes white. when that does happen, i may have to cut you off, jay, just so you know. >> i understand. >> but based on your years as a pilot with american airlines, pilot doesn't make a distress call. how unusual is that? >> in this situation, where there's a situation that looks like they landed short, it doesn't surprise me. what i suspect has happened is that the pilot somehow got distracted and landed short. so they really didn't expect this to happen. >> i assume that you have flown into sfo before. >> yes, sir. >> this particular airport, and
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these runways in san francisco, are they unusual in any way? >> the runways are not unusual, except that they do abutt the water. so if you over -- if you overrun them or you land short, you could end up in the water. >> we also heard from a fire official a short time ago from our local affiliate there, that it appears as if this plane was evacuated somewhere between two and three minutes. it took somewhere between two and three minutes to evacuate that plane. that to me -- >> well, it may surprise the viewers. but the faa requires that new airliners are certified to evacuate within 90 seconds. so it doesn't surprise me they were able to do that. but it is a big kudos to the crew that they did. >> and, again, as i was talking to bob a short time ago, he
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intimated, you know, that a lot of folks, myself included, i'm just as guilty, you get on a plane. especially if you fly a lot. and you sort of turn your brain off when the flight attendants start to go through the safety procedures and what to do in case of an emergency. and then something like this happens. >> exactly. this is why when you're onboard, it doesn't matter how many times you've heard it, the very least you can do is to take a look at that card that explains to you the safety instructions, where the exits are, look forward, look back. and once you have that information in your head, just sort of lock it away. because these things can happen out of the blue, just like turbulence. >> the emergency inflatable slides, an eyewitness told us earlier that those slides deployed on both sides of the plane. we've seen from pictures that we know for a fact they deployed on at least one side of the plane because there's the picture
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right there. and we can see some folks who were able to make their way to safety, if you will. how quickly do those slides deploy? >> they are extremely fast. when you pull the laniard, they immediately inflate. in fact, some of the airlines show you a video as you're taxiing out. and it's very realistic. i would say within 20 seconds, they are fully deployed. >> again, jay rollins on the phone with me now, jay rollins, a former pilot with american airlines. and, jay, again, as we take a look -- again, this is probably the highest vantage point we've had today. runway 28 l. you can see the skid marks. earlier, we saw what appeared to be, again, the wing of the -- excuse me, the tail of that plane that had been clipped off. >> yeah. >> we heard from an eyewitness
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earlier that she saw the actual tail clip the seawall there as it approached the runway. jay, have you ever heard or seen anything like that, a plane as it's approaching somehow, some way, shape, form, or fashion, lose its tail? >> well, anytime you have an aircraft that comes in for a landing on speed, the tail will be down slightly anyway. the nose it up. and if you land short, in this instance, i believe i heard one of the eyewitnesses report that it looked like the nose came up briefly and then the slam down flat onto the runway. that suggests to me that at the last minute, the pilot may have realized he was too low, tried to pull the nose up at the last, and that only drove the tail in even lower to the ground so that it would contact first. it or the gear at that point.
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the whole thing would collapse, and that's how you could see the separation of the tail. >> typically on an approach like this, how fast is one of these boeing 777's -- how fast is that plane going? >> about 160 miles an hour. >> compared to how fast generally, you know, when it's 36,000 feet in the air? >> oh, they're about 500 in cruise. >> ok. and for out viewers at home, by the way, you are looking at what we think at least is sort of the first batch of investigators deployed to the scene there making their way methodically across that runway. we're going to take a quick break here, folks. but, again, we expect that news conference at san francisco international airport to happen any minute. when that does happen, we will of course bring it to you live. this is msnbc.
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welcome back. we continue to wait for this news conference at the san francisco airport. it is expected to happen any moment now.
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we expect to hear from the mayor of san francisco. also the san francisco fire chief as well. at this point, hopefully, we're hoping at least that we get some precise numbers on how many folks were aboard what's left of the plane you see there, the number of casualties, number of injuries as well. but, again, you are looking at what's left of asiana flight 214 bound for san francisco from seoul, south korea. captain tom bun is in the studio with me now. captain bun spent 40 years as a pilot. he flew 747s, 767s. and, captain, i understand you said you got out of the game, you got out of the business before the 777 came around. >> yeah. that was about the time i left. >> but as you watch -- as you have watched these events unfold over the past few hours, and you look at what appears to be -- again, what appears to be at
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this point the tail of that plane, what goes through your mind? >> what goes through my mind is we've got so many safety devices. and navigation systems. that there's just no reason for a crash like this. beautiful day. couldn't have been the weather. >> yeah. >> the airplane hit about a half-mile short of where it was aimed. if this is the runway, you have the overrun, which you don't use. but then you have 1,500 feet of real runway that you give away to make sure that you don't do what happened today. so the plane aims for that spot on a three-degree glide path descending at 700 feet per minute, elevator speed. just coming down like this. for some reason, at about this position, about 10, 20 seconds before the landing, it got way too slow. people say the nose went up high. that shows it went too slow, and it hit the seawall, knocking off
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the tail, at which point it becomes a projectile. >> we know that a lot of flying now has been automated. >> yeah. >> when you were landing a plane like that, how much of it is automated, and how much of is it the pilot acting on his own accord? >> this case, you could do it either way. you could make the plane do the landing automatically or you could fly it by hand. on a day like today, certainly i think you would not be using the automated systems. >> as you look at what's left of fuselage systems there, burned out. we are hearing from our affiliate on the ground there are at least two casualties, up to 70 people hurt. we're waiting on some official numbers there. based on what you're seeing, do those numbers surprise you? >> yeah. i'm amazed that that many people got out of there. a lot of them walking out. that's phenomenal. >> and we saw them walking out. we've seen pictures of that. melissa, my colleague, standing
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by for us with some new information. what can you tell us? >> first of all, we are finding out from the airport that two runways have reopened, and anybody with travel plans through that area is being asked to check with the airlines for all updated arrival and departure information. also we're getting some news from reuters out of south korea that 61 u.s. citizens were onboard this plane that took off from seoul and crash landed in san francisco today. we don't have any word on their conditions of course at this point. >> melissa with the first information, the first information that we've gotten regarding the number of americans on the plane. 61 according to reuters. waiting to get some hard official numbers on the total number of folks aboard that plane. greg fife is standing by for me as well. greg fife former ntsb investigator. greg, are there you? -- greg, first of all, i have been asking all of our guests
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this because i've been -- before i ask you about precise things on the screen, i want to know if you're watching these images unfold. are you? >> yes, i am. >> what we identified earlier as the tail of that plane, is that accurate? are we pretty confident that's the tail of the plane? >> absolutely. one of things if you look at the rocks, the rock pile, you can see debris. and then shortly after that, you can see the horizontal stabilizers from the airplane. so that is the tail section of the airplane. it separated. and then the remainder of the fuselage with the wings and what remained of one engine ended up sliding down the runway going off the left side of the runway. >> the position of that tail, the proximity of that tail to the seawall, what if anything can we glean from that? >> i think what investigators are definitely going to be looking at, of course, is the fact that the tail struck the
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seawall, which indicates that the airplane had to be in a very nose high position. and while airplanes typically will land in a nose high position, any large aircraft normally lands in that attitude. this was excessively high. and so the investigators are going to want to know was it because there was a lack of power, the airplane was going too slow, and the crew was trying to maintain altitude by pitching the airplane up. so or there was some other issue that caused the airplane to be in a very nose high attitude as it came across that seawall. sink rate is also another possibility, where the airplane got into a high sink rate short of the runway and struck the seawall before it actually got to the paved surface. >> what is a sink rate, greg? >> that's when an airplane, when you watch them land, if you're watching them in profile, the airplane actually looks like it's settling to the ground in a nose-high attitude. that's a controlled attitude set up by the pilot based on speed of the aircraft and power. and as the captain said earlier, you want to get into a sink rate
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of about 700 to 800 feet per minute. that's what the airplane will seth in settle in at. if they got into an excessive sink rate, that makes it hashder for the crew to arrest it at very low laltitudes. and in this case, they'll be looking to see if they tried to stop it and they couldn't. >> what would cause a plane to go into this excessive sink rate that he was talking about? >> the plane flying too slow. but the question is, flying too slow. i can think of only a couple of things. either the pilot is not doing his job or the engines were not producing power, couldn't get engine power that he wanted. both seem so out of -- out of the realm of possibility, but it has to be one of those. >> captain bun and greg, i want you to both stand by for me if i can. i want to bring in corrine gaines with the u.s. coast guard. corin, are you there?
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>> yeah. >> talk to me a little bit about the coast guards' role in some of the rescue. i understand that the coast guard did help transport some victims. >> that's correct. we were just an assisting agency. because this accident didn't happen on the water, we were just helping san francisco fire department, who is the lead on the response. and we did end up transferring two victims to san fran medical. >> the victims that you transported, were they in the water? >> no. >> ok. again, forgive my ignorance here, why were you guys transporting them versus just regular ems? >> we were just assisting san francisco fire department. >> ok. well, talk to me a little bit about the scene that you saw there. >> i was actually not on scene. i've only seen the pictures. and video from the news.
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>> the folks that you did transport, the folks that the coast guard transported, their conditions, their injuries? what can you tell us? >> we don't know what their status is as of now. >> all right, corin gaines with the u.s. coast guard. thank you. >> thank you. have a good day. folks, from the right side of your screen there, you see an empty podium and some microphones there. we are waiting on a news conference at san francisco's international airport. that is going to happen at any moment. we expect to, again, expect being the operative word, we expect to at that news conference get a little bit more information about precisely the number of people aboard the plane, the number of people who perished aboard that plane, and the number of injured as well. tom costello, i understand, is standing by for us down in washington, d.c. tom, any new information?
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>> you covered it pretty extensively and well. we know that the ntsb's go team, of course, is en route, and they will look at a variety of things. they'll look at the air frame, the mechanics of the plane and how it was performing, the engine and the power systems, if you will. also airport operations. you know, infrastructure there. was there any particular construction or was all the navigational equipment working properly at the airport at that particular moment. atc issues they'll be talking about as well. do we still have greg with us? >> we do. i think we've got greg fife. oh, no, no, he's on the phone right now, tom. >> he's on the phone? i think that there was another crash in -- back in 1997. it was a -- i want to make sure i got my facts here because i'm trying to remember it, korean air flight 801. that particular plane crashed into a mountain in game. in -- in guam. and ultimately, they decided
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that the pilot was fatigued and had not been paying proper attention to his approach and quite literally flew the plane into a mountain. and there was a very interesting cultural issue here as well, and that is that the co-pilot, investigators believe, didn't speak up to say, sir, we're flying into a mountain, because of culture issues in which a subordinate doesn't speak up and correct a superior. that became a very big deal within the industry in korea because they immediately moved to change that and to fix that, to allow subordinates to question a superior when he or she may be making a mistake. and so, you know, in an american cockpit, generally if a pilot is making a mistake, the co-pilot is going to correct him pretty quickly. so that was a big cultural difference they were working on trying to correct, and felt they make great inroads. it will be interesting to see whether they look at that particular dynamic as well. >> tom, what can you tell us about the safety record of this
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particular plane? >> the 777 until today had not had a single fatal crash. it had had some incidents. in order, you're aware of the incident in london at heathrow in which the plane had a clog in the fuel line because of ice crystals forming in the fuel line and the plane came in short of the runway and crashed. remarkably, everybody got off ok. but this -- until today, there has not been a single crash involving the 777. this truly was if not the safest passenger plane flying in the world, and flown extensively on transcontinental and trans-pacific flights. it is a work horse for international carriers, and it is a very good and very comfortable plane. in fact, i was flying one time over to europe. and the guy sitting next to me was deadheading. he was a captain deadheading over to europe to fly the plane back. and we started talking about this incredible 777. and he said, you've really, really got to almost purposely
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crash this thing because it so well built and there are so many multiple redundant systems to prevent you from making a mistake that it's very difficult to crash this aircraft. >> tom, i also understand that you have had the opportunity to listen to some of the air traffic control audio. and i know it's early. but first of all, what did you hear on the tapes? what have we heard from the tapes? >> yeah. what i heard was not -- i'm going to go back and look at my notes on this. but what i heard was not anything from the cockpit saying we've got a problem. nothing at all. in fact, it seems to me as i looked at the transcript and listened to the tapes the very first mention of any problem came either from the tower or from another pilot. and then you heard the korean -- pardon me, the pilot of the asiana flight coming on in a very thick accent saying emergency. everybody knew what was going on at the end of the runway. they rolled in fire rescue immediately.
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but then air traffic control had a delicate job to make sure all the other inbound flights were told to maintain their present altitude, were told to go around, divert to other airports up and down the west coast. they had a very, very big job to orchestrate an emergency on the field. the biggest emergency you can plan for and train for. and at the same time choreograph all of the incoming traffic and outgoing traffic at sfo. that is a big, big job. and, you know, that's when the air traffic controllers make their money. >> greg is back, i understand. greg, i want to pick up on something that tom just said there, the fact that we -- again, we did not get -- we have not heard yet an emergency call from the pilot. we've got a number of sources telling nbc news that there was no emergency call made by the pilot. again, i don't want to make too much of this. but, you know, these are the facts at this particular juncture. based on that information, greg, what does that tell you, based on your years as an ntsb
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investigator? and how uncommon is that? >> well, one of the things, craig, is the fact that with no call, it doesn't mean that there wasn't a problem. but based on the performance of the crew and what the ntsb is going to be listening for on the cockpit voice recorder, it's apparent that there may not have been a problem, that the crew was making what they thought was a normal landing until, of course, they landed short. so you wouldn't expect to have any kind of emergency call. even if they had an engine problem somewhere on final approach, unless it was absolutely short final right before they struck the ground, had they had an engine problem or other mechanical problems, you've got two pilots in there. one can be flying the airplane and one can get the radio call off saying we've got a problem, roll the equipment, if you will. there was none of that. so the board is going to look at that to see how normal those flight activities were. the big thing here is what was the crew doing that ended up putting an airplane in a position to what we call undershoot the runway, or land
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short of that runway, given the fact that the weather was good and they were making a visual approach, and they had visual cues to get that airplane to the runway. >> i want to bring -- i want to go ahead and bring tom back in. tom, i understand you were waiting for greg to come back. did you have a specific question for him as well, tom? >> well, i suspect -- and greg was a former senior investigator with the ntsb, and he and i have known each other for 20 something years. but i suspect they'll have a pretty good idea within about 24 to 48 hours because they'll know very quickly exactly what their approach was, what their altitude was, what their attack level was, and be able to figure this out pretty quickly. >> you bring up a good point, and that is that those two boxes will give the big story to the ntsb. but the assumption there is that they were both operating. we have had cases in the past where one or both of those -- the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder have failed
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or ceased to operate during critical portions of the flight. so hopefully we've got data all the way down to impact. if we do, then, yes, the ntsb, the faa, and basically us, as the general public, should have a general idea of what caused this accident early on, even though the board will take 12 to 18 months to really come up with their final findings and a probable cause. >> greg and tom, if you could stand by, and captain bun. we're going to play about 30 or 40 seconds here of the air traffic control, some of the air traffic control traffic, after the crash. let's listen in and talk about what we might be able to get out of this on the other side. let's play the tapes, guys. >> this is 85. we see people exiting. they seem to be alive and walking around. >> 885 roger. >> people are just walking outside the airplane right now. >> yes. some people it looks like on the runway.
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>> it's right out near the 2-8 right number on the right side of the runway. >> excuse me. the 2-8 left number. between the runways, there are people right adjacent to the numbers. we can see two or three people that are moving and have apparently survived. >> all right. there is, again, some just 30 or 40 seconds of sound there from air traffic control. captain, what did you hear there? >> i tell you what, the thing about asking the other guys, when you come in on 28, sometimes you have planes making -- both landing parallel at the same time. and they'll ask one plane, do you have the other one in sight? and i'm just wondering if they were making parallel approaches and they were asking this person who were flying the 777 for the asiana and he had the other one in sight, that could be distracting. i wonder if anybody knew whether they were making the parallel approaches. >> we just lost greg, and i
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don't know if we know the answer to that question. but i do know that you've flown into san francisco a number of times. not the boeing 777 but the san francisco airport. >> sure. >> is it more or less difficult to land there than other airports? >> not one bit. >> not at all? >> no. the only thing that i was just asking about is that when you come in on that runway, sometimes they want to bring in a commuter alongside you, and you have to make eye contact -- make visual contact with the plane in order for that to be legal to happen. nobody's mentioned that was happening. that's the only reason i could think that somebody could get distracted on that landing. >> we did have an eyewitness on a number of hours ago who saw this thing happen from a nearby hotel room and she did say there was a united plane that was very close to this plane. so we do know that there was another plane in the area. tom, can you speak any more to that? >> the actual recording of the emergency is earlier. >> tom, do we have it? >> i'm sorry, craig.
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i was talking to the producer. my apologies. >> that's okay. do we know whether there was another plane in close proximity to this one as it was landing? >> i don't know. it's been about three hours since i used this prop, and maybe this is helpful for people to understand the configuration of the airport at san francisco. this is 28 left here. you're coming in over the water. and here's 28 right right here. this is where he was. he was literally on the runway closest to the terminal. the terminal is right here. so he's coming in, and he hits the embankment, the seawall, right there, 28 left. he doesn't get any distance at all down this runway. he's already impacted the ground before the runway even starts, the truth of the matter is. and then he ends up over here in the field. so this is like, you know, like hitting a concrete wall. if you can imagine, that is a pretty sudden drop, and then the plane just suddenly goes down like th


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