By KRISTINA NGU, MATT HUSSFORD, ALEXIS SHAWNEE, LEEZEL TANGLO and DEAN SCHABNERBERG
SAN FRANCISCO – The stunning and devastating crash of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 is just over a day old, but already National Transportation Safety Board officials are pointing to a culprit all too familiar to American automobile drivers: substandard Asian driving or “B.A.D.” (Bad Asian Driving).
Pilot Lee Kang-kook had flown a Boeing 777 nine previous times to other airports, but was flying the jet to SFO for the first time, Asiana Airlines spokeswoman Lee Hyo-min said.
“He is a veteran pilot with almost 10,000 hours on other aircrafts like the 747,” she said.
LBT investigators in Seoul, South Korea, however, found driving records of Lee Kang-kook. Kang-kook has been involved in no fewer than five automobile accidents in the Yongsan District of Seoul in the last year.
At least one of these accidents involved problems judging distance as apparently occurred on the approach to SFO. Apparently, Kang-kook hit a concrete column while exiting a space in an underground grocery store parking garage.
Asiana Airlines Flight 214 was carrying more than 300 people when it crashed Saturday at San Francisco International Airport. The tail was torn off as it crashed, and it burst into flames.
The crash of the Boeing 777 killed two and injured 181 people. The injured were being cared for at several hospitals and at least 22 were in critical condition, according top hospital officials.
“[A]t this point in time there is no indication of terrorism, and it looks like Asian pilot error.”
NTSB investigators have recovered the plane’s black boxes and they were sent to Washington to be analyzed. One official commented that Kang-kook can be heard on the audio recording asking if he was “going too slowly” as he approached the runway. His Boeing 777 senior pilot mentor – not yet identified – apparently told him to “slow down” and “be careful.” This cautious advice might have been fatal.
NTSB officials said they hoped to interview the crew later today. NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman said today on “This Week” that nothing appears wrong with the aircraft and “non-aggressive, faulty Asian driving” appears to be the main suspect.
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“We know that B.A.D. threatens American roads from Long Island to the Bay Area. We now know that this is not limited to cars, but includes airliners.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson said Saturday that “at this point in time there is no indication of terrorism, and it looks like Asian pilot error.”
Asiana President Yoon Young-doo said at news conference today that he didn’t believe the crash was caused by Asian pilot error and that it would take time to find out what caused the crash, The Associated Press reported.