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Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crashes at SFO (airliners.net)
358 points by robbiet480 1662 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 249 comments

I know they train for it, but the coolheaded professionalism there is remarkable - tower, other planes, all of them.

That's why airlines like to get pilots with military experience. They are exposed to more crazy scenarios in training and work and generally keep a cool head better under stress.

Hmmm - but: military pilots are also known (especially in some cultures) for an over-strong respect for hierarchy, resulting in a willingness to go along with dangerous instructions. Also, at least some military pilots are trained to have a higher risk acceptance than civilian pilots.

Personally, I'd be very happy having an ex-military pilot flying me around; I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons. But do be aware that the cons exist.

Actually Korean pilots (civilian) are also known to have too strong a respect for hierarchy. I remember seeing an episode of air crash investigating where that was officially reported as a factor, so it isn't even just the military where that can be a risk.

This is the most famous incident, and the one that lead to the development of Crew Resource Management, a process to make sure decisions are taken by consensus, not by deferring to authority. The crew in question, by the way, was dutch.


> Hmmm - but: military pilots are also known (especially in some cultures) for an over-strong respect for hierarchy, resulting in a willingness to go along with dangerous instructions. Also, at least some military pilots are trained to have a higher risk acceptance than civilian pilots.

Can you elaborate more on what how dangerous instructions would work in a civilian scenario? Where does a hierarchy come into the picture?

Person A, in authority but missing a critical piece of information (e.g. senior pilot who mistakenly believes airspeed is high when the plane is nearly stalling) gives disastrous instruction (pull up) to person B (co-pilot) who has the crucial information, but obeys rather than contradicting A, due to hierarchy.

ATC operators must be the most underrated people in our transportation system.

Underrated by who? Society? What's the most highly rated profession in transportation?

Maybe unappreciated is a better choice of words. Overrated would be taxi drivers and municipal taxi regulators.

Agreed. It was like it didn't even phase the controller. Wow.

Is there a transcript available?

I transcribed part of it:

0:00-0:02 - Tower: "Asiana 214, San Francisco Tower, runway 28 left, cleared to land"

0:02-0:04 - Asiana 214 pilot: "Cleared to land left, Asiana 214"

0:05-0:08 - Tower: "Skywest 5427, fly runway heading and contact (north cal?) departure" (plane took off and is making a straight-out departure, and now will contact departure control)

0:09-0:12 - Skywest 5427 pilot: "OK, going to departure, Skywest 5427 (free?)"

0:12-0:14 United 885 pilot: "United 885" (pilot makes a quick break call to tower before making a longer request)

0:14-0:16 Tower: "United, uh, 85, OK?" (tells pilot to go ahead)

0:17-0:21 United 885 pilot: "Yes, United 885 at the end, we might need a few more minutes, just a heads-up" (It sounds like 885 is next for takeoff and has taxied into position next to the runway)

0:21-0:25 Tower: "United 885, roger, hold short of runway 28 left, let me know when you're ready"

0:25-0:27 United 885 pilot: "Hold at 28 left, United 885"

0:27-0:32 Skywest 5452 pilot: "San Francisco Tower, Skywest 5452, (quite ?), 28 right"

0:32-0:36 Tower: "Skywest 5452, San Francisco Tower, runway 28 right, cleared to land"

0:36-0:38 Skywest 5452 pilot: "Clear to land, 28 right, Skywest 5452"

0:38-0:41 Tower: "Three Sierra Fox... (garbled)"

0:39-0:41 Voice in background (in tower?) "What? Hell? What happened?"

0:43-0:50 Skyhawk 737ZD pilot: "San Francisco Tower, Skyhawk seven three seven zulu delta (garbled, another transmission saying 'GO AROUND') (something) plus 500 feet please, over San Carlos" (A four seat Cessna is over the San Carlos airport just southeast of SFO and wants to cross the SFO airspace. 737ZD [if I have it right] is the aircraft's tail number, no connection to the Boeing 737.)

0:50-0:52 Tower: "Skyhawk 6389, maintain 3000 [feet altitude]" (It sounds like 6389 is on approach to land and tower is telling him to go around? Not sure)

0:53-0:54 Skyhawk 6389 pilot: "(something) 3000, yes, 389" (speaking quickly to keep the channel clear)

0:55-0:57 Asiana 214 pilot (!!): "Tower, Asiana 214!"

0:57-1:00 Tower: "Asiana 214 heavy, emergency vehicles are responding" ("heavy" refers to any large aircraft)

1:00-1:01 Asiana 214 pilot: "214" (acknowledging)

1:02-1:03 Tower? "Emergency veh(something)"

1:03-1:09 Asiana 214 pilot: "OK, now, uh, uh, and ten or twelve (?) (unintelligible)"

1:10-1:16 Tower: "Cessna 737 Zulu Delta, San Francisco Tower, remain clear of the San Francisco (Fox Bravo?) airspace, contact San Carlos Tower"

1:17-1:21 Skyhawk 737ZD pilot: "Seven Zulu Delta, contacting San Carlos Tower, and remaining clear"

There's another minute or so on the recording, but my nerves are shot after doing that much. If anyone would like to pick it up from there, correct it, etc., please do.

I did my best.

1:10 ATC: 737 Zulu Delta San Francisco Tower, remain clear of the San Francisco Fox Bravo airspace [ed: I believe Bravo refers to the SF Class B airspace, not sure what the Fox is]. Contact San Carlos Tower

1:17 737 Zulu Delta Pilot: Contacting San Carlos Tower and remaining clear.

1:22 ATC: 305 start leaving the Bravo airspace and 2 miles .. terminate ... maintain the appropriate stage ..

1:27 ATC: (inaudible) is closed San Francisco Tower (inaudible)

(inaudible command to Horizon 635 from ATC)

1:34 ATC: He's got a 214 heavy, San Francisco Tower

1:37 ATC: Asiana (inaudible)

1:42 635 Pilot: 635 going around.

143 ATC: 635 fly heading 2-6-5 maintain 3100 (ft).

1:46 635 Pilot: 265 3100 - alright 635.

Asiana (inaudible)

1:51 ATC: Asiana 214 heavy emergency vehicles are responding, we have everyone on their way

1:57 ATC: SkyWest 5452 san francisco tower go around

2:00 SkyWest 5452: Go around Skywards 5452

2:03 ATC: SkyWest 5452 fly heading 2-8-0 maintain 3000 ft.

2:07 SkyWest 5452 Pilot: 280 and 3000, SkyWest 5452.

2:10 Horizon 635 fly heading 2-6-5 maintain 3100

2:13 635 Pilot: Yes sir 265 3100, Horizon 635

2:16 ATC: Contact NORCAL reports for 135.1

2:19 635 Pilot: 35.1 - Horizon 635

2:22 SkyWest 5452 contact NORCAL reports for 135.1

2:25 5452 Pilot: 35.1

2:27 6039 Pilot: 6039 will go to San Jose

2:31 ATC: SkyWest 6039 roger. Contact NORCAL for departure

2:35 ATC: (inaudible) SkyWest 6389

2:39 ATC: rescue 33 San Francisco tower proceed to the scene cross - inaudible - the 11 San Francisco Tower proceed as requested. Cross all runways.

2:46 Rescue: San Francisco Tower 33 and rescue 11 cleared the 1.

2:50 ATC: rescue 33, rescue 11 roger.

2:54 ATC: (inaudible) Foxtrot San Francisco Tower


I also listened to the ATC before descent, no talk about any failures or problems or requests for rescue before descent.

The "Fox Bravo" is actually "Class Bravo", and you're right, it's a reference to the SFO Class B airspace. I can't edit my comment any more or I would fix it there...

Your "6039" should be "6389". It was only clearly audible the last time on the tape, the previous couple times it did sound like 6039 due to interference.

Edit: I was transcribing this when you were, apparently; but here's mine, in case we caught different things.

1:23 Tower: tells a departing helicopter to depart 2 mi straight out, turn right, squawk a certain signifier on its altimeter (standard practice), and approves a frequency change (also standard practice);

1:28 Tower: cuts out briefly and then says "..is closed, San Francisco Tower."

1:31 Tower: silence, then starts to tell a Horizon flight something and the Asiana pilot cuts in with [hard to hear, best guess]"San Francisco?" Also, Sounds to me like they put Asiana 214 on a priority channel over other flight traffic, or that the tower cut itself/other pilots off when they saw/heard Asiana 214 was speaking.

1:36 Tower: Asiana 214 Heavy, San Francisco Tower

1:37 Asiana 214: [unintelligible, but my best guess: This, uh..., how much is this, uh, where is, uh,... uh,..."]

1:42 Horizon 635: 635 is going around

1:43 Tower: Horizon 635, fly heading 265, maintain 3100

1:46 Horizon 635: 265, 3100, Horizon 635

1:49: Asiana 214 [garbled]: San Francisco?

1:52 Tower: Asiana 214 Heavy, emergency vehicles are responding; they have everyone on their way.

1:56 Asiana 214: [garbled, definitely a few words and then a static burst]

1:58 Tower: Skywest 5452, San Francisco Tower, go around.

2:00 Skywest 5452: Go around, Skywest 5452

2:30 Tower: Skywest 5452, fly heading 280, maintain 3000.

2:07 Skywest 5452: 280 at 3000, Skywest 5452

2:10 Tower: Horizon 635, fly heading 265, maintain 3100.

2:14 Horizon 635: Yessir, 265, 3100, Horizon 635.

2:17 Tower: Contract North Cal departure 135.1.

2:19 Horizon 635: 35.1, Horizon 635.

2:22 Tower: Skywest 5452, contact North Cal departure 135.1.

2:26 Skywest 5452: 35 1.

2:28 Skywest 6389: 6389 We'll go to San Jose.

2:30 Tower: Skywest 6389, Roger. And, uh, contact North Cal departure.

2:34 Skywest 6389 [garbled]: What's the... frequency for that?

2:36 Tower [garbled at start]: [garbled] point 1, Skywest 6389.

2:39 Tower [garbled at start]: Rescue three three, San Francisco Tower, proceed to the scene, cross runway; [garbled, maybe "Rescue"] eleven, San Francisco Tower, proceed as requested, cross all [garbled, "runways"?]

2:46 Rescue 11: San Francisco Tower, [garbled, maybe "Rescue 33"] and Rescue 11, cleared to one.

2:50 Tower: Rescue 33, Rescue 11, roger.

2:54 Tower: [garbled] Foxtrot, San Francisco Tower

[end transcript]

Apparently I was doing this simultaneously with you; oops.

Any idea what stage of landing 214 was at when mention emergency vehicles? Had it hit the ground?

>Had it hit the ground?

Yes, that was post-crash.

Thank you. Amazing job. Was hard to understand the audio.

Yeah, I have listened in on some air traffic controller streams that are available online and it's always hard to decipher what it is they are saying. It all sounds like words slurred together with no clear demarcation. I am mostly amazed how pilots and the controllers clearly understand each speaking the way they do.

The engineering term to google is data redundancy with a bit of communication theory and stuff like that.

0:32-0:36 Tower: "Skywest 5452, San Francisco Tower, runway 28 right, cleared to land"

0:36-0:38 Skywest 5452 pilot: "Clear to land, 28 right, Skywest 5452"

This looks like 6 seconds of jargon containing about 25 words, but it really only contains one single bit of information that being that in the giant state machine of flowchart of flying a plane, everyone mutually agrees its your turn to click forward precisely one step. Once you look at it that way, the "conceptual bit rate" drops dramatically lower. 5452 probably expected to get 28R all along, and based on where he was probably expected to get clearance "right about then" too.

"Hey you, its me, you can land over there"

"Hey you, its me, I think heard you say I can land over there" (with the implied, if I misheard, you'd best start yelling right about now either at me or at everyone else to get out of my way)

When its just business as usual, things click along awful fast. When ATC gives out some "unpredictable" order or a pilot has a weird request, there's always a very dramatic pause due to cognitive load. I can have my scanner monitoring the local tower for fun and Very quickly you learn to tune out BAU chatter until/unless weird tempo strikes. You can also tell purely by cadence and tempo with near perfect accuracy if the pilot is a local or a noob in general or a distant traveler.

Also, kudos to the tower. It is seriously an amazing thing they do, and to stay cool and calm and efficient all during a crash, to keep the rest of the traffic clear and headed in the right direction.

It's part learned jargon and part ritual... also (though I don't know) probably easier to hear in a headset than on a low bitrate mp3 recording.

Some more insight regarding the ATC audio: http://www.liveatc.net/forums/atcaviation-audio-clips/asiana...

Amazing. Wish I understood what's happening in each exchange.

Basically, the United flight holds short of runway 28 as he may need a little more time (this is the United flight CNN showed sitting there, probably).

The ATC controller knows something has happened because the first time we hear from 214 heavy, the controller tells the pilot emergency vehicles are on the way.

Then some captains on final announce they're going around and some ask for redirect (one clearly to San Jose). The controller then tells some flights on final to go around.

Finally he's directing rescue units to cross all runways where normally they'd hold at each runway to be directed.

I found these comments helpful. They breakdown the exchange between the tower and the approaching planes. The first is from an air traffic controller.



A tweet from a purported passenger: https://twitter.com/Eunner/status/353592664526028801

> I just crash landed at SFO. Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I'm ok. Surreal... (at @flySFO) [pic] — https://path.com/p/1lwrZb

I can't imagine the confusion that must have gone on when that happened, maybe it's shock or maybe people just underestimate the severity of their situation but correct me if I'm wrong... are there people in that photo actually carrying their bags off the plane? I can't quite comprehend that.

""" The majority of passengers who replied to the Safety Board’s questionnaire were carrying at least one piece of carry-on luggage. Only 25 passengers (6 percent) reported having no bags with them in the cabin. Of the 419 passengers who reported that they carried on bags, 208 (nearly 50 percent) reported attempting to remove a bag during their evacuation. The primary reason that passengers stated for grabbing their bags was for money, wallet, or credit cards (111 passengers). Other reasons included job items (65), keys (61), and medicines (51). Most passengers exited the airplane with their bags.

Passengers exiting with carry-on baggage were the most frequently cited obstruction to evacuation. Twenty-four of the 36 flight attendants who responded listed carry-on baggage as an obstruction. Overall, 37 percent of the passengers indicated that retrieving carry-on baggage slowed the evacuation; however, in five of the evacuations (cases 9, 16, 24, 27, and 32), a majority of passengers believed that the evacuation was slowed by carry-on baggage. Further, 70 passengers and 8 flight attendants reported arguments between passengers and flight attendants regarding luggage.

[...] The Safety Board concludes that passengers’ efforts to evacuate an airplane with their carry-on baggage continue to pose a problem for flight attendants and are a serious risk to a successful evacuation of an airplane. """

http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/safetystudies/SS0001.pdf (page 66-68)

It's an obvious tragedy of the commons problem. Everyone would get off fastest if they brought no bags. But taking YOUR bag only slows down debarking a tiny amount, and it saves you weeks of hassle. Clearly the rational choice is to bring your bag. But when everyone brings their bag, possibly half the flight dies due to smoke inhalation from not getting off the plane quickly. But even then, it's STILL the right choice to bring your bag. Your exit speed is determined by whether everyone else brings their bag, a choice which you cannot affect.

The people who brought their bags off the plane today have their clothes, laptops and passports tonight; they can go to work tomorrow. The people who didn't are locked up in a customs holding cell, wearing the same underwear, for a few days until someone can issue them a passport. They'll never get their bag back and the airline will, after filing dozens of forms, compensate them about $50 for it.

Electronic locks that lock all overhead compartments whenever the seatbelt sign is on, with clear LED indication and preflight explanation so people know their bags are inaccessible and simply don't try.

Many of the bags look like ones that would be under a seat. That's the one I would snag too--laptop and camera.

The majority of handluggage is in overhead compartments, especially larger stuff. It's not a 100% solution but it's cheap and easy to implement.

That would actually waste WAY WAY more time as each and every person will try to open the lock, and fail.

Then some of them will really fight with the lock refusing to leave.

Not if there's a giant LED-lit "LOCKED" next to the handle, which is explained by crew before take-off. Even if they ignored the crew, they'd see the lighted "LOCKED" next to/on the handle.

Mitigating against that exact misunderstanding was part of my suggestion - otherwise you could just lock them with no lights/explanation, but then you'd run into the problem you describe.

That doesn't stop people from panicking (e.g. "My stuff!") and attempting to break the lock. In the NTSB report, people were arguing with the flight crew over whether or not to leave their luggage during evacuation.

Edit: I'll add that I was in a retail store (employee) that was evacuated by police, due to an armed gunman. People were still worried about the office chair or shredder that they wanted to buy. An officer had to basically get up on a counter, and hold up his gun and badge and say, "Everyone out! Now!"

On the way out some guy was trying to ask me if we would be open later because he (apparently) really wanted to get this office chair he was looking at.

And even with a locked message, each person will still try and open it anyway. (You've never disbelieved a sign and tried something for yourself? You've never said "I have to see/try that for myself, even though someone told you what was/did/will happen?)

It's human nature. You have to work with it, not against it.

One obvious improvement, if your analysis is correct, is to apply some kind of more-sane treatment to undocumented immigrants who are undocumented due to an obviously anomalous situation, such as surviving a plane crash. If people really believe that the U.S. will treat them well if they do the right thing, they may be more inclined to do the right thing.

The US regulations already contain provisions for this. You needn't worry that the people who lost their passport in a plane crash will be treated inhumanely. They may be inconvenienced in terms of lost time, but at least they didn't die in a fire.

I guess the take away is that you should keep your essentials on your person while flying. Those items list are all small enough to fit in pockets or unobtrusive bag. Having them ready sure make things go a lot smoother in an emergency situation.

I suppose the emergency info should mention that anything you absolutely can't leave needs to be kept on your person.

Of course most people will thing "aw it will never happen", but if they hear the same message every time they take off people will probably get in the habit of not leaving their wallets in their luggage.

Apparently, it is fairly normal behavior; people activate a "leave plane" program. Having only one, they pick the one involving grabbing one's luggage before getting out of the plane.

(Sorry, can't find a reference. Most hits I get are either on emergency reaction/response by outside teams or on long-term emergency responses such as PTSD, community reactions, etc)

We do whatever we're used to.

I fly gliders, where it's fairly common to wear parachutes in flight to guard against structural failure or mid-air collision.

We're told that when we're done flying, we should always exit the glider first, then remove the parachute. Some people will unbuckle the parachute first, then step out. Some of these people have gone on to bail out in flight, and they undo their seat belts, unbuckle their parachute, and then bail out of the plane without it.

In indoor climbing arenas, people operating the safety line may unbuckle it seeing their regular partner land safely on the floor, even if they aren't securing their regular partner at that particular moment. Here, the recommended procedure is to always have the one who was climbing release the security line.

I think this is some of the most relevant engineering info I've read on HN this week.

I remember seeing a car accident once, a young guy in a mustang T-Boned a mini-van driven by a mother with an infant passenger. A moment after the accident, the woman got out of the minivan, walked around to the other side to open the working side door, grabbed her purse, and then calmly walked to the shoulder to wait for police. It was only after anybody asked her if there was anybody else in the vehicle that she realized her infant was still in the van, right next to where her purse had been. She ran over, retrieved her child and then went back to the curb, cursing herself the entire way.

(everybody was fine, there were no injuries).

I was in a very, very bad accident at 16. I pulled myself out by the steering wheel (I was in the front passenger seat) and walked over to the other vehicle to ask if everyone was okay, before finding out that I was severely injured myself. The other driver kept telling me I should really sit down, and I couldn't comprehend why he'd be saying that when I felt perfectly fine.

The brain is quite incredible at blocking out bad things.

What they need is a giant sliding bar (like in old jail cells) that locks the overhead doors shut on takeoff, and won't get released until at the gate. Last time I flew on a commercial flight, I got clocked in the head by some jerk who couldn't think ahead and put 'something important' in the overhead.

I think it would be fair to carry the small package under my seat (my laptop), but reaching for overhead is a joke.

You're allowed to access stuff in overhead handluggage during flight. Examples include diapers, medications, books, laptops, etc. It's not just jerks.

I would think "while the seatbelt sign is on" would be adequate.

If you're in a plane crash, you're trying to evacuate, and the guy ahead of you is trying to grab his carry-on and the bottles of wine he bought in France before exiting, I am pretty sure it's perfectly OK to punch him in the face.

No jury in the world ...

The bottlenecks in their escape were the doorway and the crew's deployment of the inflatable slide. Rushing the door in a panic would have done nobody any good.

In a situation like that, why wouldn't you grab your bag if it was readily accessible? It seems like healthy, rational behavior rather than a symptom of extreme confusion.

  The bottlenecks in their escape were the doorway and the 
  crew's deployment of the inflatable slide... why wouldn't 
  you grab your bag if it was readily accessible?
Wrong. In order to be certified airworthy, you have to be able to evacuate an airliner in 90 seconds, in the dark, with some of the emergency exits blocked. Here's an A380 doing it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TAkAcQOnQY

Here's a 777: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TAkAcQOnQY

If everyone stops to grab their bag, it can take ten times as long. If the plane is on fire, then people die.

Thanks. That is impressive.

The whole thing now makes me wonder if there was some very deliberate reason for their egress to be delayed. Something having to do with fire or the risk of fire? (I really have no idea)

You linked the same video twice. (thanks, though)


And of course I check back 7 hours after the edit window.

They should show that as the pre-flight video.

> Rushing the door in a panic would have done nobody any good.

No one's suggesting this. You can both leave the plane in a calm manner and leave your bags behind. As far as I'm concerned, there's no good reason to take your bag unless it's actively obstructing the way out -- which, in fairness, could well be what's happened here.

Off-hand, some reasons not to: the aisles have limited capacity, and more bags in the aisles mean fewer people can be queueing ready to get off. It will take longer to figure out how to use the slide if you want to go down it with your bag, especially if the bag is heavy or large. The bag might have sharp corners which could damage the slide (if I remember rightly, people are advised to remove sharp-heeled shoes for this reason).

Seconds count in situations like this. I think people have taken the "keep calm" message to heart and, if anything, need to be taught to treat this kind of thing more seriously. The reason I mention this is that I'm reminded of the bystander effect:



> The students were placed in a room-either alone, with two strangers or with three strangers to complete a questionnaire while they waited for the experimenter to return. While they were completing the questionnaire smoke was pumped into the room through a wall vent to simulate an emergency. When students were working alone they noticed the smoke almost immediately (within 5 seconds). However, students that were working in groups took longer (up to 20 seconds) to notice the smoke.

These peoples lives could have been in imminent danger, but they might waste precious seconds to leaving the plane because of social pressures (e.g. someone sees one person taking their bag, so thinks it's okay to do so themselves, or subconsciously thinks the situation is not that serious).

People should keep calm, but they should also know to treat the situation as it is -- an emergency. But as I say, this is all speculation, and may not be relevant at all in this specific instance. I just hope everyone's okay.

> Off-hand, some reasons not to: the aisles have limited capacity, and more bags in the aisles mean fewer people can be queueing ready to get off.

I can see what you're saying but "number of people queued in the aisles" isn't an important measurement at all. The important thing would how much the overall rate of passage through the exits is affected by the people who grabbed their bags.

I expect the rate of passage through those exits has a lot to do with what people do when they reach the bottom of the slide. That certainly might be affected by what they're carrying, but then again, people might have simply been tossing their bags over the side. You can't rely too heavily on a single photograph to analyse these things.

> I think people have taken the "keep calm" message to heart and, if anything, need to be taught to treat this kind of thing more seriously.

The alternatives are to keep calm or panic. I guess "seriousness" is subjective but when it comes to calmness vs. panic, I know which alternative I'd prefer the people around me to exhibit in an emergency. Particularly in a confined space. How is this even an argument?

After seeing the following photograph (1 of 18) I'm confused. Contrast it with the original one we were talking about: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-san-francisco-plane-c...

Never mind the whole issue of people grabbing their bags. That plane was rather seriously on fire and the people in the original photograph don't appear to be very concerned about moving away from it. Strange.

A lot of plane crash deaths happen after the crash - burning fuel can spread quickly and kill or incapacitate people inside. Every second counts. Even if you already have your bag in hand, you're leaving less room for others in the aisle.

Also, since it's an international flight, people's travel papers are likely in their backpacks, etc. If you take the time to grab your backpack, you may as well grab whatever else before you head out.

I wonder if they refuse ingress to the USA based on lack of documentation in these cases.

The safety briefing before every flight tells you not take take any bags when emergency evacuating the plane.

it is interesting how emergency this emergency situation is - the people are being let out only through one door, and they aren't additionally channeled through business class door even though business class people have obviously already left, and there seems to be no damage to the plane blocking the economy to business class passageway. The emergency exit atop the wing is also not activated. I mean it seems that it isn't that big of an emergency from POV of the people inside the plane.

They probably instructed you to take their carry ons. Otherwise, given it was a flight from Korea, they may not speak English and have no clue what they were being told to do.

It's a Korean airline, so the crew members are probably able to speak both Korean and English.

What a phenomenal photo and speed of information. People are still exiting with their bags in hand, incredible. THIS is one of those moments when you realize how social media and mobile devices have changed the world.

dba7dba: you've been hellbanned and your comments are marked [dead]. I would contact the admins about it, since I can't see why, based on your comment history.

I know this is exciting news and all, but:


Hacker News Guidelines

What to Submit On-Topic:

Anything that good hackers would find interesting.

That includes more than hacking and startups.

If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.


Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon.

Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures.

If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic.

I'd say trying to rationalize that this story is relevant on HN by saying "startups use SFO" is a stretch. I'd hope that people taking flights out actually check with the airport first before checking HN.

FWIW, I was in the airport waiting for my flight to SFO, and I took out my laptop and found this on HN. The counter staff only informed passengers of the news one hour after the HN post.

I also used to complain about off-topic submissions reaching the front page, but doing so is also against the guidelines, so it's better just to flag them and move on. I know it seems like the flagging system is broken at times but I've been convinced that having arguments about it is just a waste of time.

It's interesting in the context of the issues with the 787, which HN has shown plenty of interest in.

It could have nothing to do with the 787, but show me lots of articles about the 787 and I'm going to be tangentially interested in the 777.

It is also interesting in the context of HN when you think of the people who talk about how airlines need to be disrupted. It serves as a reminder of the stakes- you can't necessarily jump into the airlines business shooting from the hip and hoping for the best.

In watching how this news has been better (i.e. more acuratly and faster, and also rapidly self correcting) reported on HN then any other news source I'd have to say that HN itself is the relevant on topic idea that good hackers would find interesting. I do.

HN is better at news reporting and sifting. I'd like to know why and see if it could be reproduced for the larger public.

From what I saw it impacted before the runway. This brings back memories of the British Airways 777 that came down early due to loss of power to both engines (Speedbird 38, Beijing to London). The cause of that was ice blocking the fuel filters which starved both engines. The thing to check here was what altitude the plane was flying at for most of the flight, and what temperature it was at that altitude along the flight path.

That icing issue has since been fixed and so is irrelevant to this crash (according to CNN).

I believe it is interesting, because accidents such as this one imply a thorough investigation. That is: figure out what went wrong, why and how, and how it can be avoided in the future (and, unlike some people believe, it's never about blaming or suing anyone).

That sounds quite hacker-ish to me. It's all about learning to understand facts, understand information and events; and then obtain conclusions and analyze them (when they are released).

"anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity."


Someone who was on the plane says everyone seems OK: https://path.com/p/1lwrZb

Sincerely hope so - it may be a little early to tell though, he likely didn't have visibility of the full cabin and it's hard to tell what things are like inside.

That's David Eun, a Samsung exec, so he was probably up front in biz class.

the front section of the plane is theoretically the most dangerous part of the plane; survivors in plane crashes are most likely to come from just behind the wing.

That greatly depends on the type of crash. The added risk your talking about has a lot to do with nose down collisions.

I'd factor in the fact that the people density is lower up front, probably aiding you in getting off the plane faster.

There's no need to factor in anything, those statistics come from actual outcomes of past crashes.

Look as though there are very variable reports right now- some saying two dead, at the very least a good number are injured.

Probably a simple logical fallacy. The dead aren't going to walk off a plane, so if you look around yourself after evacuating a plane and don't see anyone dead you might say that everyone seemed to be ok.

(latest info at bottom of comment)

ABC reports it was coming from Taipei, linked forum says Taipei. Video of aftermath. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dFtmSybpuw&feature=youtu.be.

Redwood City FD responding. Unknown amount of passengers. SFO FD using foam on entire plane.

FAA has now shut down operations at SFO due to "disabled plane"

3rd alarm called, "red" alarm called.

Multiple reports that fuselage is in multiple pieces. Tail is some yards away.

FAA issues statement: "A Boeing 777 operated by Asiana Airlines crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport." No further details.

Asiana Airlines flight OZ214, Boeing 777, registration HL7742 http://t.co/bSgoVeggrU

Better picture: pic.twitter.com/JqLj9OAtzv

#SFOFire Northfield IC, North Field Command, four engines and 3 ambulances inbound to aircraft, other units staging #CaFire

@rafweverbergh: Confirmed with controller at SFO: "plane is broken in multiple pieces. (...) a hard landing" SOURCE: http://t.co/ghqoLpxfVM @scobleizer [http://twitter.com/rafweverbergh/status/353590307402694658]

@CarrieMantha: Thank God @OntarioHazards EMS reporting all passengers of the downed plane at #SFO are accounted for. Injuries but no reports of fatalities [http://twitter.com/CarrieMantha/status/353590343624691712]

@punkboyinsf: Redwood City Fire is classifying SFO plane crash as 3 alarm fire and level 8 mass casualty incident. via @lautenbach #YAL [http://twitter.com/punkboyinsf/status/353590933515804672]

@Emergency_In_SF: SFO AIR CRASH (update): crews report 48 patients have been rescued so far after 777 crashes on landing. Passengers still on burning plane [http://twitter.com/Emergency_In_SF/status/353591197144588288]


@brianstelter: KTVU, Fox affiliate in San Fran, has a faraway live shot of the plane here: http://t.co/BXreHtWugm No anchored coverage yet. [http://twitter.com/brianstelter/status/353591320733941760]

Someone got a picture of the crash as it happened:

@stefanielaine: just realized I have a picture of the actual crash. holy fucking shit. http://t.co/5TnOX96Gsi [http://twitter.com/stefanielaine/status/353591123958173696]

@peterpham: 290 passengers on plane, 1 infant - San Francisco Fire and EMS Live Audio Feed http://t.co/ZoMhufPNMA via @Broadcastify [http://twitter.com/peterpham/status/353592842385494016]

VERY UP CLOSE PICTURE FROM TWITTER: https://path.com/p/1lwrZb

Amazing changes in information [1] flow. HN becomes a better source than all major networks combined.

[1] Information as contrasted to conjecture and dramatization.

KTVU is providing amazingly sensationalist coverage. I guess I do not watch enough video news to be use to seeing it. Just wild assumptions and implied details.

Apparently the belief is if they don't talk constantly, the reality TV demographic (those influenced by commercials) won't watch. Actual information is not important, just dramatic syllables.

Amazingly, Fox News is broadcasting a live feed of the scene, with no more audio than the helicopter itself: http://video.foxnews.com/v/1155606219001/

When 9/11 happened here, the biggest news network here had the reporters do that, they kept talking random shit...

It was kinda funny (despite the seriousness of the situation), when they were already full blasting the flight regulations and pilots on how irresponsible they were, when the second plane (that crashed on the second tower) entered the screen, and the anchor (that is the most famous anchor in Brazil) went: "LOOK AT HOW LOW THEY FLY, THAT IS..." and the plane crashes on the tower, and the reporter clearly go on full-confused mode, specially because it probably downed to him that he was speaking shit until now.

Check the lower third on CNN "Fire Chief: Fire Fighters went to work right away" I mean really? they did not stop for some in and out on the way to the scene?

One of my favorite CNN quotes from the day: "Video taken soon after the crash and posted on YouTube showed dark gray smoke rising from the plane, which appeared to be upright. That smoke later became white, even as fire crews continued to douse the plane."

Uh... that's what happens when you put water on fire... you get steam, which condenses into white clouds.

That's a basic rule of firefighting... black bad, white good (and when it comes to structural firefighting, brown really bad).

Why is brown particularly bad?


  White smoke that is slow or lazy is most likely indicative 
  of early-stage heating. One more important note about smoke 
  color: brown smoke. Unfinished wood gives off a distinctive 
  brown smoke as it approaches late-stage heating (just prior 
  to flaming). In many cases, the only unfinished wood in a 
  structure are the wall studs, floor joists, and roof 
  rafters/trusses (photo 3). This can tell you that the fire 
  is transitioning from a contents fire to a structural fire. 
  Using our knowledge of building construction-especially 
  lightweight structural components and gusset plates-brown 
  smoke issuing from gable-end vents, eaves, and floor seams 
  becomes a warning sign of impending collapse.

Thanks :)

In a house fire, brown smoke generally signifies structural fire, rather than the contents. I have no idea about aircraft. The situation matters, I would assume. Reading smoke is more art than actual science.

Sensational it is sure. They have a helicopter circling around , while hacker news does not. But besides that, they can even interview drivers on highway 101, passengers on the next plane, how relevant! Oh, they did show the twitter picture by @eunner, yeah, they get it! They were reporting like that pretty much 10 years ago. As a side note, a koreatimes article about B777 incidents recently: (B777 engine failure sparks concerns) http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2013/07/116_1386...

'... On July 2, the jet, bound for Incheon International Airport from Chicago with 273 passengers on board, made the emergency landing at a far eastern Russian airport after only seven hours of flight. ... After engineers of Korean Air replaced the malfunctioned left engine, Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the carrier launched an investigation into the incident and found the gearbox in the engine, built by General Electric (GE), was the reason for the problem. ...'

KTVU is borderline comical ... they were making wild assumptions that, even using basic logic and common sense, could be dismissed. I was really surprised how unknowledgeable they seemed.

Much better to just report what you know and not try to make up information (even just claiming it as conjecture). Online sources were far more valuable.

> they were making wild assumptions that, even using basic logic and common sense

Agreed. I changed the channel (well, found a new live stream) when they said "it's likely that all or most of the passengers died" immediately after showing the photograph from the scene, showing many passengers leaving.

The caption to the photo was "I'm fine, and everyone else seems fine."

Really, KTVU?

KTVU was so bad that I had to take a screenshot of their website. A photo showed people walking away from an upright plane with the copy "after wobbling for a minute, the aircraft flipped upside down, coming to a stop on runway upside down." https://twitter.com/pfreet/status/353599929039589376/photo/1

The death of journalism indeed.

I've had CNN on for a while and it's amazing how little information they are giving. Until I came here i didn't know if there were 2 dead or 200 dead. It's almost as if they are so concerned with being wrong about anything that they can't offer any sort of initial report, rumor, or conjecture.

Almost as they they're trying to report rather than spread "rumor, or conjecture"? If that's the case they deserve applause; it'd be nice to see news agencies back on the reporting track, analysing and filtering before going on-air.

Call me old fashioned, but I'd prefer if the rumour and conjecture stayed on Twitter.

Audio from air traffic controller during crash http://l.bitcasa.com/BAhtheeZ

The flight was Asiana 214 from Seoul: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AAR214

AVHerald.com report, which will be kept updated and also will eventually get NTSB reports:


Awesome reporting! Seriously, good job.

I honestly believe that a collection of sources like this is the future of news; allow people to draw their own conclusions based on the first-hand content you can collect.

Shameless plug: OK, that's actually what I've been building for a few months. We had to break it to finish building it (sorry, or i'd just show you), but our launchrock page is at http://grasswire.com if you want to have access when we launch

I don't think it's appropriate to be hawking your product in the midst of a (potential) tragedy. This is nothing to be excited over.

Saying that I'm "excited" about a tragedy (I'll remove the word "potential" as so far at least two people have died) is unfair. You make it seem like I'm getting stoked that a plane crashed.

I'm not trying to "hawk" anything, but am trying to help create a system that will help people understand the world around them in a better, more efficient way. If linking to it in this thread feels cheap then I apologize, but that wasn't the intent at all.

Edit: scratch the original response here, I mixed your username up with another user's reply. Sorry about that. I still feel you shouldn't be promoting your website/news service in this thread, however.

What proportion of people browsing this thread would you say are here for professional reasons (say, commercial pilots), or personal reasons (say, might know some of the passengers and / or crew)?

My guess: the vast majority of people reading this thread on HN are here for entertainment. Given that, why bitch about someone hawking his wares?

It's not like he crashed a funeral or something.

Edit: Former comment retracted. I still disagree, but it's not worth discussing here. Carry on.

The problem is when you have reports stating that the plane flipped over when that clearly did not happen. Crowd sourced news will not always be accurate, and can also lead to crowd based vigilantism such as happened during the Boston attack and the aftermath on Reddit.

While traditional media often relies on sensationalism and also use these same sources of information during broadcast, this is not an ideal method either.

That's why you have to build fact-checking in. Reports did say the plane flipped over, but there were pictures on Twitter showing it clearly didn't. If you were shown both of those reports at the same time it would be obvious what the right answer is.

Also, it's worth noting that mainstream media was reporting the plane had flipped over as well, so misinformation isn't solved by the current solutions.

I'm not sure I agree. From those first pictures I saw (charred plane) I drew my own conclusion that a large number of people must have died. From the latest reports, it appears I was wrong.

Sometimes we don't know enough to make meaningful conclusions without experts weighing in. Not to mention bias- first hand accounts are rarely impartial. In this instance there aren't any "sides" to take, but I'd bet that most of the photos flowing out of Egypt right now have an opinion behind them.

That's fair, but I think I still disagree. If you are only looking at one source, sure, it can be confusing, but if you have a good collection of all of the first-hand sources really you are able to draw the same conclusion that any reporter might be able to. Right now we have basically outsourced the job of drawing conclusions from opinionated people to reporters. Given the right information I believe every person could do that.

But I recognize that's not a belief held by many people. I've just been able to watch all of the reports come in for a while and feel like that's enough, if not better.

we have basically outsourced the job of drawing conclusions from opinionated people to reporters

Yes, and this is economically efficient. Of course they get all sorts of things wrong at the outset - the fact that this is annoying is a reflection of how much we rely on them. But the fact is that in most cases we don't especially need to know these things immediately; I'm curious about this crash, of course, but it doesn't affect me directly and there's nothing I can do about it. It's actually better that I didn't check the news until a bit later in the day when some time had gone by and the details had firmed up - I'm a little behind the curve, but I've saved 2 hours of pointless and probably poorly-founded speculation. If it wasn't for the fact that my wife watches more TV than I do I'd probably go days at a time without checking, and just catch up Saturdays when the Economist arrives.

I understand being a news junkie - because I am one. But it's an unhealthy habit that rarely yields enough advantage to justify the time involved. I'll check out your startup but really, I suspect it would just be an endless time sink for me. I already find this a big problem with text-based news.

EDIT: I meant to say internet-based news.

To answer the reply below, I guess my question is 'what benefit is there to me in following multiple reports as they break? To be good at it requires doing it on a regular basis, but the economic benefit is questionable. I think it's a great idea, and if it can build up a sufficient community then it has the potential to function as a better news bureau than existing sources. The hurdle to climb is that the number of people who will be both skilled at analyzing breaking news events and have the time to put in regularly will be fairly small, and every time there's a major event the interested local population that joins in will consist largely of -first timers, whose contributions will amount to (Shannon) noise.

I mention a local event, because I see that while we're worried about this because many HNers are in the Bay Area, over on the East Coast near Maine a train carrying oil derailed and exploded in the middle of a small town, flattening the town center and with 60-100 people missing. So a plane crash with only two fatalities doesn't seem very important from a different perspective.

What I'm saying is that if you could use the aggregate cognitive surplus of the people trying to follow the event as it breaks, you could use that to create something cohesive and reliable. Then if you're not a news junkie and don't have any interest in following a story until it has settled down, you're welcome to do so.

[edit] In response to the question above: So is your question why would somebody follow something as it breaks?

It's not so much why do we follow something as it breaks - that's normal human curiosity/pattern hunger. But my question is how many people will do it consistently enough to be neutral, rather than because they're selectively interested in (but not necessarily informed about) a small set of stories. As I understand it this has been the problem for Wikinews - it can't function as well as Wikipedia because the number of people is below a critical threshold, so it lags breaking news by up to several days.

That's an excellent question. Wikinews doesn't function as well, in my opinion, because Wikinews feels like work - the people I've talked to that use/create Wikinews say they do it out of a sense of civic responsibility; it's not enjoyable, and a lot of the time they say it feels like rewriting the New York Times (from the couple dozen I've talked to).

The solution, I think, is in making following the news as it breaks exciting/interesting enough the average person would contribute. Our solution for that was to show you all of the social media streaming from different sources streaming in real time related to the event, making it more like /r/new (Reddit) than wikinews. Watching everything stream in and sorting out the good stuff is exciting; it's easy to get a lot of neutral eyeballs on it.

If you are only looking at one source, sure, it can be confusing, but if you have a good collection of all of the first-hand sources really you are able to draw the same conclusion that any reporter might be able to.

Not if you were a reporter on the ground. If you have multiple biased sources you can't get an unbiased view without squinting and inferring things you don't know.

I don't disagree that with the "right" information, people can make good conclusions. I just think that it's very rare for the "right" information to be available. This is an example of where it's more likely, as there is no "pro-crash" story to tell. That isn't the case with almost any politically sensitive story, though.

It's true that our first hastily-drawn conclusions from not enough facts are mostly wrong, but I will say this: it's fascinating and for me, thrilling, to watch the truth about big events coalesce in real time as primary, grassroots-sources get compiled (and fact-checked!).

I wish I could find a well compiled list of facts & sources like this along with every news article. Great work, thanks for sharing.

Wikipedia usually has the info for major events.

At the moment, the most info on the crash on the Wikipedia seems to be at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asiana_Airlines_Flight_214

They're now saying 2 are dead, 61 injured

EDIT: They = KTVU News

Now saying 60 people unaccounted for.

And now all but 1 accounted for.

All accounted for.

Sheryl Sandberg was scheduled to be on this flight but switched to a United flight [1]

The now famous photo from the ground is by David Eun, a Samsung Executive [2]. Coincidentally at a time when there are talks of a Samsung / Facebook partnership [3]

[1] https://www.facebook.com/sheryl/posts/10152997724435177 [2] http://www.linkedin.com/in/davideun1 [2] http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-facebook...

Flight path comparison today vs yesterday. https://twitter.com/sbaker/status/353611787750494208

Sitting in a plane there now that was supposed to take off in 10 minutes. Hopefully there were no serious injuries. There's a big plume of smoke where the 777 is.

Incidents like this make me wonder about interesting problems people are currently solving/or will have to address with commercialized space travel.

Say if this had happened at a docking port to a space station, regardless of the severity, it would have been fatal for everyone (assuming people in transit wouldn't be in some kind of suit meant to protect them from the vacuum of space/or radiation inside of a ship that is supposed to do that).

Ever since Soyuz 11 depressurized after/while detaching from Salyut 1, everyone has used rescue suits during launch/landing. These rescue suits are not good for EVA as they don't provide the same mobility as EVA suits (better mobility while not in a vacuum, little to no mobility while in a vacuum), but they provide life support for limited amounts of time.

Radiation is really something you don't worry about until everybody is safely repressurized.

Edit: Chris Hadfield talks about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gaFXZWhp4k

Do you think (or are) people would be required to wear these suits on commercialized flights?

As an aside, I wish I could be involved with anything dealing with space and exploration… it all just seems so fascinating and so much potential not only for economic development, but even to understand who we are in the context of what is or may be around us.

Yes, okay maybe not on holiday jaunts. Before you can board a helicopter to an offshore platform and have to don a survival suit. With the risk of the helicopter flight being so high it is not really something complained about.

I think we can draw a lot of parallels between helicopter flights to offshore platforms and a shuttle into space.

I don't know who would be in charge of doing the requiring (perhaps FCC [edit: err... FAA] with American companies / launches from America?), but I can't imagine that anybody would be willing to not use pressure suits during the risky portions of missions. Soyuz 11 was really bad.. nobody is keen on repeating it.

Thankfully I think that safety is something that economic pressure will address really well with commercial spaceflight. High-profile accidents didn't sink either the American or Russian national space programs but I think that at least in the foreseeable future commercial outfits will feel a lot more vulnerable . A high profile deadly accident for SpaceX would be devastating for them; at least moreso than an accident for a government agency with some strategic military purpose partially behind it. I expect commercial spaceflight companies to take safety at least as seriously as government agencies (at least while they are still in their infancy. Once SpaceX becomes the real-life "Union Aerospace Corporation" that might change. ;))

Why can't you?

I'm on a less than traditional path right now in life, and I'm not sure who I would even reach out to that would be in a position to listen and give me a chance. But I'm trying, but probably not in the most direct way… and I guess pg said it best himself: "If you want to take on a problem as big as the ones I've discussed, don't make a direct frontal attack on it"

While we are looking at reasons why this crash happened it may be worthwhile to consider Malcolm Gladwell's suggestion in his book 'Outliers' that Korean cultural legacy, where the High Power Distance ratio between bosses (the pilot) and their underlings (such as the co-pilot) were responsible for a series of Korean Air crashes in the 1990s.

"In addition to weather and pilot fatigue, he blames those crashes on crew members whose cultural legacy made them too deferential to communicate clearly that the plane was about to crash"


It may be worthwhile to read a commercial pilots comments after reading Outliers: http://philip.greenspun.com/flying/foreign-airline-safety

(A more reasonable explanation that would have been uncovered with basic research is that foreign airline captains have less pilotmim command time.)

It's never worthwhile to spend much time pondering any of Malcom Gladwell's pseudo-scientific drivel.

Asian and Middle-eastern airlines have a huge number of expat pilots.

Let's please let race and culture be speculations of last resort.

Absolutely right. I was bringing to the attention of the HN community a series of Korean airline crashes that occurred in the 1990s that can be directly attributed to this factor [1].

For the record, there are a number of countries worldwide that exhibit the same restricted cultural legacy. For example, there is also a High Power Distance ratio in a number Latin American and African countries [2]. See, for example, details of the crash of Colombian Avianca Flight 52 [3].

Whether this is a factor _in this particular incident_ is of course for the authorities to decide. Considering the provenance of this airline as being from a high power distance ratio country I felt this information might be relevant or at least of interest to others.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_incidents_and_accid...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofstede's_cultural_dimensions...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avianca_Flight_52#Cause_and_in...

Taiwanese airlines (China Airlines) had a horrible safety record for a while, largely due to having mainly ex-military pilots from a culture of covering up deficiencies and hiding problems to save social standing and such. I would never fly on them as a result (they're probably better now).

OTOH, Evergreen/EVA Air has an awesome safety program and record, and is also Taiwanese. So, it's a cultural issue within specific airlines, not overall national culture. (Similarly, I think it was AirTran and a couple other LCCs in the US which had horrible safety culture, and Alaska has amazing safety culture.)

Korea exports pilots to countries like China (where I live), they don't import them so much anymore.

Tweet/photo from someone who was on the plane: https://twitter.com/Eunner/status/353592664526028801

Reference photo of the plane, for comparison: http://www.airliners.net/photo/Asiana-Airlines/Boeing-777-28...

Isn't it fascinating, how everyone is still exiting with their bags in hand? In all that chaos, I would probably just freak out and run. But apparently, a lot of them were picking up their bags before leaving the plane. Crazy. Glad so many got out though.

many of these people are foreigners, ie. visas, passport, cash/cards, etc... It is night and day difference between having your passport+visa available for immigration control and the alternative.

My ex once asked me what I would miss the most if my house burnt down. I immediately said it would be the documents. I would probably worry about this even after I got an American passport.


no. If everybody just rushed to the exit - it would bottle-necked and throughput would dramatically drop like it frequently happens in the known cases of club fires for example. Instead it dictates specific, much calmer, tempo: me/family alive and whole, neighbour alive and whole, bag with passport, lets move...

There's an interesting report on the A380 certification evacuation test[1] of ~870 people in 78 seconds. Granted, that was in a hanger with volunteers who knew it was going to come (but not when).

Serious fuselage damage might put enough exits out of commission to heavily bottleneck, though (although I think there's supposed to be some significant safety margin on those as well).

[1] https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airbus-a380-evacu...

Does this really need to be on HN? Just because it's in SFO?

Everyone will already have heard about this on, I don't know, any other news channel

If you follow recent articles, HN'ers don't watch the news channels.

260 people thought yes, so it's up and staying there for a while

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who just don't understand how a site like this works.

Ugh...my wife is deathly afraid of flying. She is in Canada now and flying back to SFO next week. I hope she doesn't hear about this.

Point out that the fact that this is newsworthy underscores how rare of an occurrence it is.

My friend with flight anxiety actually got it from researching airplane safety. While they did learn about probabilities n'all, they also learned about way too many details, after which every single sound seems like the oscillating electron pump failure on Molvania flight 52317 where nobody survived the spontaneous atmosphere exit. It's not exactly rational, it's your silly brain suddenly deciding the specific probability of gruesome death went from epsilon to 99%, and anxiety going through the roof.

Solution: sleeping pills, apparently, or generally anti-anxiety and good contact with flight staff (thus ability to find "safe feeling" seats). In the specific case.

I would recommend trying private airplane lessons (on a calm day) Being in control of an airplane helps a lot, and that feeling may transfer to commercial flights.

I suspect this is what makes people feel that a car is safer: they themselves are in control, and can believe that they'd miraculously dodge any crashes through skill and luck.

I don't know if that sense of control is transferable, though; paranoid backseat drivers are still a thing.

She tried. It was actually no problem, but didn't help. Apparently the lack of impact (i.e. "I'm gonna die and can't do anything about it") is exactly the point. In some ways it's hilariously similar to my social anxieties.

I remind myself that the vast majority of people who fly and steward planes all day, every day, live to a ripe old age.

I doubt that really helps with those types of fears …

It’s possible to have a complete and rational understanding of the situation and still feel fear. That, at least, frequently happens to me.

If she does, it might be worth pointing out that there was apparently little-if-any loss of life (though we certainly don't have all the details yet...)

Apparently it was two dead, others injured.

I was scheduled to arrive in SFO today and now my flight is canceled.

It seems like everyone may be fine, i pray that they all are! https://path.com/p/1lwrZb

If it turns out it was a mechanical failure, and not pilot error we should credit them for a successful crash landing.

Looks like he landed too steep and short of the end of the runway, which is a jetty. Likely ripped off the tail which would have likely bounced the rest of the airframe down onto the engines ripping them off. At least the fuel was low since it was the end of the flight.

Is there a pilot error that can account for the tail ripping off that plane?


Eyewitness, standard caveats apply:

> “The tail was too low. Instead of coming in flat it was coming in at a 45-degree angle, with the tail far too low,”


Thank you.

No kidding about witness reports. At least one news report has claimed that the plane flipped over, and people are just throwing the word "cartwheel" around.

There is no sense in speculating about the cause until the official report is ready, though. Things that seem obvious immediately can easily turn out to be wrong. Unless we're just speculating for fun.

Korea's other major airline, Korean Air, has the 5th worst safety record among international airlines [1]. In that case, cultural issues was the problem: http://blogs.wsj.com/middleseat/2008/12/04/malcolm-gladwell-.... Wonder if there's any correlation here, but obviously it's too soon to tell.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_incidents_and_accide...

Audio from the air traffic control tower: https://www.dropbox.com/s/04qqum874iz4ijr/KSFO-Tower-18%3A22...

The flight path into SFO goes right over my house in Palo Alto. It's funny, I was wondering why there had been no planes flying overhead today, but hadn't realized what had happened until I saw this post.

I hope everyone is OK.

2 confirmed fatalities, and 60 people still unaccounted for, according to the SF fire chief in a press conference just now.

I'm hearing more air traffic overhead than usual. I bet there are going to be a lot of diversions to SJC and OAK.


I would think that SFO would have a video stream of all plane landings and takeoffs. In fact, it would be dumb if ALL airports didn't have this considering how cheap it is to install.

Does anyone know anything about this?

There's no doubt they'd have footage, but they'd be stupid to release it to the media while an investigation is being undertaken.

I was supposed to be flying into SFO this morning from Seoul, though not on that flight (would've been AA flight 26). Suffice to say I had a surprisingly large number of people asking if I was OK.

And the Fire Rescue frequency: http://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/6336/web

It is ridiculous that a post so factually inaccurate is still the first post. A real failure of the HN comment voting mechanism.

Some crazy geo based Instagram photos if you search for SFO and click near the crash site Http://Instahood.meteor.com

roughly 60 unaccounted for live coverage at http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/live

next news conference at 5:30 Pacific time, 8:30 EST

Damn - I was just on OZ214 back in October coming back from Seoul...

Is this a case for or against automatic airplane control?

Free flight was supposed to have happened already. But there are obstacles.

As for ATCs if you do not make use of a skill frequently, you atrophy. When you are suddenly thrown in the middle of an emergency, you perform badly. We can't have "mall cops" watching computers doing air traffic control.

People do not like automation that much either. Consider the fact that underground trains have drivers even though technically they are not needed.

And then there are the technical aspects...

So I do not think that this particular crash would bring much new to the table.

Nuremberg, Germany here.


We have driverless trains without drivers at all. There is some staff getting into random trains to check for problems (like problematic passengers, etc).

Interesting thing: the migration is going gradually, there are trains with drivers running on the same line than driverless trains, and IIRC this was never done before.

> Consider the fact that underground trains have drivers even though technically they are not needed.

The London DLR[0] has been automated since it was opened in '87. It travels on the surface too.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docklands_Light_Railway

Ah well done, is it possible that this is because the contract is to a private company?

It's highly unlikely any answer based on this crash is going to be accurate for at least a year.

Why is this HN relevant ?

Relevant for several reasons. The main one probably being that it's an airport a lot of HN members probably use.

Also submission guidelines: http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

It seems to me this is a disaster they'd cover on TV news (thus off-topic) and it doesn't gratify my intellectual curiosity (thus not on-topic). Little different than a jackknifed semi on the highway that a lot of HN members probably use.

Now a technical analysis of the factors leading to the crash would very much be intellectually gratifying and I look forward to seeing that posted on HN.

Don't know about other people here, but I've actually taken Asiana Airlines #214 several times.

SFO is the nearest airport to San Francisco and Palo Alto, I expect this will affect travel for people of startups coming back from vacation like myself. That's why.

TBH, if this was only interesting because some geeks might have their travel disrupted, it would indeed be off topic.

Traffic jams and CalTrain disruptions would certainly be.

Good or bad, HN always has tons of SF news that really isn't relevant to hackers or startups.


It's relevant because in terms of safety, commercial aviation equipment (aka "planes") are some of the most throughly engineered pieces of technology. 90% of the engineering lessons software engineering is learning today was learned in aviation decades ago. Now, one of the things just did something it not only wasn't supposed to do, it did something that shouldn't even be possible. That is very interesting news to hackers.

How about: because the 777 is one of the newest airliners in production and SFO is one of the busiest airports in the US, so if this is due to an engineering defect it's both extremely concerning and relevant to general HN discussion, even aside from the immediate personal safety aspect. Just as the 787 battery problems were.

I don't think anyone would argue that an article about an engineering defect wouldn't be relevant, but OP is not that.

Newest? First flight was in 1994.

777-200LR is pretty new though (2006?)

The aircraft in question is a 777-200ER, which first flew in 1996.

The variants are usually relatively minor updates, though. Even the 747, which first flew in 1969, has a variant that can be considered "new" (-8, first flew in 2005). It's usually the early variants that validate the design.

Relative to other comparable aircraft, the 777 has a remarkably clean accident/incident record over an operational history spanning nearly 20 years.


Ah -- I was copying from the airliners.net thread where someone initially said it was a 777-200LR. It is amazing just how safe the 777 seems to be. I wish they'd done the KC-777 plan for tankers instead of a KC-767.

its a 777-200ER, not LR. Still a fairly new plane though

Because hackers are people..?

This is HN relevant because it is SF airport but also because when a story is breaking its pretty cool to watch people gather the information and report it, especially HN'ers. Helps give our community a personality. Stories like these don't stay at the top for very long, but while its breaking news I feel like HN has a unique way of reporting and that makes it HN relevant.

If you think it's off-topic and you have flagging privileges, you can flag it.

You've been downvoted, but I think your question is a right one. Is this relevant, because it happened in San Francisco? Is every incident or crash in San Francisco relevant, then?

Does it satisfy our intellectual curiosity? Is there something we can learn from it? Is there a clever hack involved? An interesting trend emerging?

Obviously 128 people (what a nice number) think this should be on the HN front page. I don't.

In my humble opinion, I consider it to be a bigger story than Vim 7.4a being ready for beta testing.

Please get off of your high horse and have decency or respect for human lives. Also, there are always stories of prominent hackers dying on HN and we give our condolences as well as discuss the innovations of that hacker. But because it's live and people seem ok, it's not relevant?

Also, if you can't learn something or satisfy your intellectual curiosity from an extremely violent plane crash that left (what is seems to be) all of the passengers virtually unscathed, you're really not trying. There are tons of physics and engineering principles in place in the flight of a plane and, imo, looking at the way the tail was lost, it should have turned out way worse than it did. Anyways, there's a flag button on the article, so feel free to press that button and move on. Thank you.

I recommend deleting your ill-conceived comment. You may be at risk of being ninjabanned.

I wish I had downvote privileges right now.

Sorry you had to witness something that's not a tutorial for an already-popular javascript framework.

because the people on HN voted it to be

yes, that is the first and most important question on everybody's mind now.


Because a plane is the nearest thing to a hack which humans have designed.

Shit, no. A plane is an elegant work of engineering. A helicopter, now that's hacky as hell.

Because the guidelines clearly state that anything the audience here finds interesting or noteworthy is relevant, that is why.

Think of it this way - when was the last crash or accident involving a major jet in the US? It's been over a decade.

why isn't it?


What is the point of this comment? Are you mad that a collective of people found this worthy of the front page? That people live and work in SF?

I don't understand your outrage. There was a major incident and people are talking about it. There are millions of other websites you could be spending your time on. Why spend it here if you find the communities actions so objectionable?


You aren't forced by anyone to read anything here.

You can't downvote submissions, only comments.


What's he going to do? Trained professionals are taking care of the evacuation, and if he tries to "help", he will just get in the way. Sometimes there really is nothing you can do. This is not to be confused with a case where nobody is doing anything and everybody is just watching.

Exactly; unless you see a passenger struggling to get away from the plane, it's not at all clear what you could do early on without getting in the way or running an unreasonable risk.

Based on the early and very possibly incorrect or misleading info and pictures, if it were me I'd hang back and then volunteer wherever they set up a staging area for the less injured survivors.

I think it's the best possible service he could be performing at that moment in time. Letting his friends/family know he's ok, confirming for others that it was not a mass fatality event. What should he have done in that scenario?


"A picture is worth a thousand words." Also, you just assume this person is setting up a professional photography shoot while ignoring everyone. Is it possible they took a photo of the situation AND helped the people around them? How profound!

The passengers exiting with wheeled luggage are a much bigger problem.

Seriously. If you are ever posed with a situation where you must evacuate an aircraft, then GTFO and just leave your bags onboard. Do not do anything that could impede others' egress.

You can get new stuff later, and the airline is likely to compensate you anyway (case in point, within days after US Air 1549 landed in the Hudson, the airline cut checks to the passengers to compensate for irretrievable belongings). You can't buy back your life or those of your fellow passengers.

Who are we to judge the passengers of this flight for exiting the plane with luggage? We have no idea what was communicated to these passengers and what basis they are carrying the bags on. Maybe it's a bag containing important medication of some sort for another passenger?

We don't know (yet) what happened. It could be that the passengers were standing around for a minute or two before being able to exit the plane. In the meantime, you're probably not hurting anything by reaching up into the overhead or under your feet and grabbing your bag.

It can get caught in a seat while exiting. That already happens all the time in normal deplaning situations, let alone an emergency situation!

You are, you can't fit as many people in the aisle that way.

I feel the same way but a) almost any civvies would not be able to help, b) there would be more people for emergency response to worry about, and c) families/friends would be worried sick and, unable to call, would be looking for any signs/info ASAP.

I don't see a problem with it myself (as long as he's not interfering with the emergency workers doing their jobs and he's not neglecting someone he could help). Otherwise this is a modern day way to say "Hey, I'm ok"

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