The flying pilot, Lee Kang Kuk, was landing for the first time at San Francisco and had spent less than 40 hours flying the Boeing 777, although he had flew nearly 10,000 hours on several other jets, said the 45-page report released during a one-day investigative hearing into the accident in Washington.
Lee, 46, said he was “very stressful” about making a manual landing because the airport’s glide slope indicator, a ground device that help pilots determine their altitude on approach, was out of service at that time due to a runway expansion project.
“The trainee captain was asked how confident he felt about his knowledge of the B777 autoflight system just prior to the accident,” the report said. “He stated he was not so confident because he felt he should study more.”
The training pilot said he thought the autothrottle “was always working” on the Boeing 777 before the plane came in too low and too slow, but investigators found that the autopilot was disconnected and autothrottle changed from “thrust” to “hold” at an altitude of 1,600 feet, when the pilot called out “manual flight,” the report said.
The plane was targeted to go 137 knots 73 seconds before landing, but dropped to as low as 103 knots just seconds before striking a seawall with the landing gear at the airport.
Three Chinese female students were killed and more than 180 people were injured when the Boeing 777, with a total of 291 passengers and 16 crew members on board, crashed and burst into flames at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.