Crew ignored procedures in Guam crash Airline's operations chief concedes errors in cockpit

March 26, 1998|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

HONOLULU -- Korean Air conceded yesterday that the cockpit crew of its Flight 801 apparently ignored important procedures as the jetliner sank dangerously low before slamming into a hill last summer while attempting to land in Guam.

Pilot error is the suspected cause of the crash Aug. 6 that killed 228 of the 254 aboard the Boeing 747, and yesterday's testimony by Jung Taek Lee, the airline's chief of flight crew operations, did little to dispel that suspicion.

Transcripts of cockpit voice recordings recovered from the wreckage show confusion in the cockpit, with crew members questioning one another repeatedly about the state of the instrument landing system and failing to follow procedures that would have kept them aware of how close they were getting to the ground.

"The crew's compliance with [these] procedures was less than we are taught," Lee told investigators during the second day of National Transportation Safety Board hearings on the crash.

In the final seconds before the crash, an on-board radar device -- the ground-proximity warning system -- barked out repeated altitude readings showing that the plane was flying dangerously low. Lee said crew members should have called the readings to each other's attention, but failed to do so.

Oblivious to the impending disaster, the crew continued to run calmly through a routine prelanding checklist, not attempting to pull the plane up until it was too late.

Pub Date: 3/26/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.