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Crash Investigators Turn To Asiana Pilot Who Was At Controls

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As they try to find out why Asiana Flight 214 crashed Saturday at San Francisco International Airport, federal investigators plan to soon question the pilot who was at the Boeing 777's controls, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman said Tuesday on Morning Edition.

The flight crew, Hersman told NPR's Renee Montagne, has been "very cooperative." Investigators questioned two of the crew's four members on Monday. "We hope to interview the flying pilot this morning," Hersman said.

Of course, questioning the crew is only one part of the NTSB's probe. Investigators are "working back from the seawall" that the jet struck, Hersman said, and "down the runway to the aircraft." They're documenting evidence as they go.

Voice and data recorders are also providing a large amount of information. On Morning Edition, Hersman added a few more details to the information she released on Monday. She said, for instance, that 7 seconds before the plane crashed, "there was a conversation in the cockpit that they [the crew] recognized they were slow."

As for the pilot and reports that he only had about 40 hours behind the controls of a 777, Hersman said "a lot of pilots ... will fly more than one aircraft type." This man, she said, was "an experienced pilot. ... He had a lot of hours" flying.

Investigators want to know much more, Hersman added, about the training the pilot had before taking the 777's controls and the role of the "training pilot" who was part of the crew on Saturday.

Also on Morning Edition, NPR's Richard Gonzales reported about the firefighters and other first responders who rushed to the scene.

Two teenage girls from China died from injuries they suffered either during the crash or just after. An investigation continues into whether one of them may have been killed after being struck by an emergency vehicle. Remarkably, the 305 other people on board survived the crash — though dozens were injured, many critically. The flight had begun in China, stopped in South Korea and then continued on to San Francisco. Asiana is a South Korean airline.

CNN this morning has posted video of its interview with three young siblings — two sisters and their brother — who along with their parents survived the crash. "There was no warning or anything," says 15-year-old Esther Jang. "It just happened." Her 13-year-old brother Joseph says that when the family was reunited later, "I was really glad, so I started crying." They had been on a family vacation in South Korea.

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