Asiana: Laser Blinding Possible as Doomed Plane Approached SFO
See also: Were Asiana Pilots Drinking? We Might Never Know
It was a clear day and the Boeing 777 seemed to be working fine. So theories have been flying about what caused the jetliner with 307 people aboard to crash at San Francisco International Airport last weekend.
You may now add a new possibility: a laser pointer.
In the latest of the NTSB's daily press conferences on the Saturday crash of flight 214, which appeared to have killed two (teens who were headed to L.A.) and injured more than 180 passengers, board chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman revealed this tidbit:
The pilot at the controls, Lee Kang-kook, reported to investigators that he saw a flash of light that temporarily blinded him as the Asiana plane approached the SFO runway called "28 left."
Hersman said the pilot believes the aircraft was about 500 feet up and 34 seconds out when the flash occurred.
That would be about 27 seconds before pilots took action to try to correct their way-too-slow approach. But Hersman says it was about the time pilots realized something was off about their pace.
Whether this is the ah-ha moment that cracks the case of what caused this crash is still a matter of guesswork.
Hersman didn't seem to put much stock in the role of the reported flash. It was a bright summer morning and the plane might have been over water at the time:
We really don't know what it could have been.
However, there has been a rash of laser-pointing incidents involving passenger jets and law enforcement helicopters in the Los Angeles area in recent years. So it's not unheard of.
In fact, the FAA says it happened 2,800 times nationwide in 2010.