Reporters mob Asiana Airlines president arriving in San Francisco

Asiana Airlines President Yoon Young-doo is swarmed by reporters upon his arrival at San Francisco International Airport.
(Kate Mather / Los Angeles Times)
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Reporters mobbed Asiana Airlines President Yoon Young-doo as he walked into San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, eventually chasing the executive back through the arrivals door.

About 50 reporters had gathered at the airport’s international arrivals area for the flight carrying Yoon: Asiana Airlines Flight 214 -- the same number as Saturday’s ill-fated flight. Yoon is expected to tour the crash site and meet with officials and possibly passengers.

When Yoon finally stepped out and bypassed a makeshift microphone stand, the crowd erupted into chaos.


A mob of reporters ran after him, flashing cameras and thrusting microphones in his face. At least two police officers standing nearby intervened, yelling for the crowd to move back. “Somebody get me a baton!” one shouted.

After only a brief moment in the frenzy, Yoon was ushered back through the arrival door, a handful of reporters still trailing behind him. Another brief scuffle broke out before he was escorted back through the way he came in.

At a briefing in Seoul on Tuesday, Asiana Airlines said experienced pilots were at the controls when the Boeing 777 crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport last week, killing two and injuring scores of others.

Lee Kang-kook, the captain who was in training on the aircraft, had previously flown in to San Francisco International 29 times as a co-pilot on Boeing 747s, Yoon told reporters, and the co-pilot on the flight, Lee Jung-min, had flown into the airport 33 times.

“They each had 33 and 29 times of operational experience,” Yoon said before boarding the flight to San Francisco, calling the men “excellent pilots.” “I can tell you that they were sufficiently qualified pilots.”

The investigation into Saturday’s crash is zeroing in on what went wrong in the moments leading up to the plane’s approach onto Runway 28L, when the aircraft was flying too low and too slow. Aviation safety experts questioned why the crew did not recognize the problem and take action before the flight clipped a sea wall then rammed into the runway.


It was only 1.5 seconds before impact that the plane attempted to abort the landing, by which time it was too late.

Lee Kang-kook had only 43 hours of experience on the 777. Lee Jung-min was his “training captain,” but he had only been certified as a training supervisor June 15, less than a month before the crash, Asiana representatives said.

Yoon said he had personally apologized to the families of the two Chinese girls who were killed in the crash. He is scheduled to view the crash site Tuesday afternoon after arriving in San Francisco, and possibly meet with survivors and their families in the coming days.

Yoon said he did not expect to meet with the pilots because they are out of reach until the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation is concluded.


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Twitter: @KateMather

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