Asiana Pilot: Light Blinded Me at 500 Feet

Investigators unsure of its source

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 11, 2013 4:48 AM CDT | Updated Jul 11, 2013 7:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Clues to what may have caused the Asiana Airlines crash this weekend continue to emerge. The latest: The plane's pilot said that while flying at 500 feet, he was blinded by light, investigators say. "It was a temporary issue," says National Transportation Safety Board chair Deborah Hersman, but its cause remains uncertain. "We need to understand exactly what that is," she says, per USA Today. She also discussed the plane's apparently delayed evacuation.

The pilot told flight attendants not to start evacuating as soon as the plane stopped moving; the evacuation didn't begin until a flight attendant spotted a fire near a door, about 90 seconds later. "We need to understand what they were thinking," Hersman says. In two minutes, rescue vehicles were on the scene; a minute later, crews took on the fire, part of which occurred near an oil leak from the right engine. One of the flight attendants who was pinned down by evacuation slides broke her leg, Hersman said, and at least three attendants were ejected from the plane, not two, as previously reported. The disaster has prompted speculation about whether the plane's automatic controls were working, CNN notes, but whether or not they were, "there are two pilots in the cockpit for a reason," Hersman says.

In this Saturday, July 6, 2013, photo provided by passenger Benjamin Levy, passengers from Asiana Airlines flight 214, many with their luggage, are on the tarmac just moments after the plane crashed.
In this Saturday, July 6, 2013, photo provided by passenger Benjamin Levy, passengers from Asiana Airlines flight 214, many with their luggage, are on the tarmac just moments after the plane crashed.   (AP Photo/Benjamin Levy)
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