Flight Attendants Survive After Being Thrown from Plane During Crash

Two flight attendants on the Asiana Airlines jet that crashed in San Francisco on Saturday were apparently ejected—but were found alive on the Tarmac after the accident, which the pilots now blame on the plane's auto-throttle.

The plane's pilots report that the plane wasn't set for the correct landing speed. According to their reports to the National Transportation Safety Board, they'd positioned the auto-throttles to keep up an air speed of 137 knots—which is significantly faster than the speed of the plane as it flew into San Francisco. At 158 mph, the plane was flying 30 knots below its target speed.

The chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah A.P. Hersman, said the NTSB is looking into whether the throttles were activated correctly.

The crash of Flight 214 killed two and injured 182 people aboard. The two young women who died in the crash were traveling to the US from China for summer camp. It is still unclear whether one of the girls was killed by an approaching emergency vehicle. The President of Asiana, Yoon Young-doo, said he apologized personally to the two families of the young women and defended the pilots of the jet, reporting that they were qualified crew members with experience flying into San Francisco.

According to experts, the flight into San Francisco International Airport is not unusual or even difficult, but the airplane's speed must be examined closely because of a necessary 180-degree counterclockwise turn involved when the plane approaches from the north.

Experts and investigators examining the cause of the crash say that there was an over-reliance on technology. External air safety experts say that the pilots's statements about the throttle do not resolve why they were not monitoring the speed and altitude of the plane, which were both significantly out of the normal range for landing. According to these sources, the pilots should have been examining the plane's speed every few seconds. Barry Schiff, a former TWA pilot and an air safety consultant, told the LA Times:

"Whether it was engaged or not working is almost irrelevant. The big mystery of Flight 214 is why in God's name did these two pilots sit there and allow the air speed to get so low."

[LA Times, image via AP]