Zee Media Bureau
San Francisco: The ill-fated Asiana Airlines flight 214 that crash-landed at San Francisco airport had a delayed evacuation as the pilots told the flight attendants to let the passengers stay in their seats, it has emerged.
It was only after 90 seconds and after a flight attendant noticed fire outside the crash-landed plane that the emergency slides were deployed and passengers began to be evacuated out of the plane.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairwoman Deborah Hersman gave an account of the events before crash.
Expressing shock over the pilot’s initial order of not evacuating the plane and calling it an “unusual” move, Deborah said, “"We don`t know what the pilots were thinking”.
"It seems a little unusual that the crew would not announce an order to evacuate after a plane crash," Ms Hersman said.
"In previous accidents there have been crews that don`t evacuate. They wait for other vehicles to come to get the passengers out safely. Certainly if there`s an awareness that there`s a fire aboard the aircraft, that is a very serious issue. There was a fire, and then the evacuation began."
She said part of the crash investigation will involve deciphering if proper procedures were followed during the evacuation.
Two of the plane`s eight slides malfunctioned, however, opening inside the cabin and pinning two flight attendants underneath. Meantime, the fire that started when fuel leaked onto a hot engine started spreading and flight attendants and the flight crew battled the flames as firefighters and rescuers arrived.
The plane, carrying 307 passengers and crew, crashed Saturday. When the tail was peeled off after the plane clipped the seawall at the end of the runway, three of four flight attendants seated in the rear were ejected from the plane, Hersman said. All survived and were among the six flight attendants who remain hospitalized.
Two people died in the crash and scores were injured, though most not seriously.
The flight attendants, especially lead attendant Lee Yoon Hye, have been cited for their professionalism during the evacuation. Lee and the other five attendants not hospitalized, one of whom was in a wheelchair, held a brief, emotional news conference Wednesday.
With Agency Inputs