TODAY   |  July 07, 2013

Investigators search for clues in Flight 214 crash

After the crash of Asiana Flight 214, investigators are searching for answers as to why the plane crash landed at the San Francisco International Airport.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> an important development in the investigation. tom costello covers aviation for us. he's live at washington 's dulles international airport . tom, good morning.

>> reporter: hi, lester. very interesting the president of asiana airlines says he does not believe there was an engine failure because investigators haven't been with engines for any real time . you have to wonder if the president of the airline has learned something from the crew maybe the rest of us don't know. if he does, you can imagine the investigators are going to want to know what the crew says. the broken, burned out remains of flight 214 won't move from the runway until ntsb investigators have painstakingly gone through every inch of it. already they have recovered the flight data and voice cockpit recorders both stored in the tail of the plane. multiple teams will begin dissecting the entire crash.

>> those teams are going to be focused on operations, human performance, survival factors, the airport, airport operations, and focusing on the aircraft, the system, the structures, and the power plants .

>> reporter: investigators are hoping the black boxes will answer why did the plane's tail slam into the barrier at the end of runway 28 left. did the pilot land far too short of the runway? if so, why? was it pilot error or a mechanical problem? nbc news aviation analyst former captain john cox.

>> this airplane was on the ground so much earlier, it's going to be up to the ntsb to determine exactly what happened there, but in those last seconds for them to be that low, something was not normal.

>> reporter: federal sources say the crew did not issue any distress call suggesting they were not the working any mechanical problem prior to the accident. investigators may also look at the instrument landing guidance system at san francisco . since june 1st , it had been disabled for runway construction. even though it was a sunny day with visual flight rules , could that have been a factor? former senior in the the in the investigator greg sikes. [ no audio ]

>> reporter: it was five years ago that a plane crash landed in london after ice formed in the fuel line starving the engine of fuel. everyone survived and a worldwide fix was ordered. saturday's crash is the worst fatal accident involving a 7777. 777 has one of the safest records. it's been flying since 1994 . this is the first fatal crash. it has flown around the world for long haul flights. lesser?

>> tom kocostello, thanks. we saw in your report ntsb chairman debbie hersman. thank you for being with us.

>> good morning, lester.

>> as we heard both flight recorders have been located, lots of eyewitnesses. there's a distinct trail of debris from the edge of the water to wrp the plane came to a rest. are you confident you'll find the answer to this mystery?

>> i am confident in the abilities of our investigators to get to the bottom of this. as you said, we have a lot of good information. we need 0 to take a look at it and see what it tells us.

>> has your team or the ntsb had a chance to have even a cursory conversation with the pilots? was there any indication of a loss of power, any other performance issue with the airplane you are aware of?

>> there were federal officials, law enforcement officials, who had initial conversations with the pilots. the faa and ntsb have not yet. we hope to do that in the coming days. we will be looking at the recorder and data recorder 0 to see what the parameters tell us about the last moments and even the minutes and hours before the crash.

>> tom had pointed out and we had mentioned that the president of asiana said there was no issue with the engines. do we know if he got that from the pilots in those conversations with other authorities? did they give any indication of thor foe eperformance of the aircraft?

>> for us we have to take a look at the information, the evidence, document all of that before we draw any conclusions. we understand that other people might make statements, but for us we want to make sure we verify the facts before we come out with any statements like that.

>> ms. hersman, should we read thinking into the fact the pilots did not issue any sort of distress call prior to impact, or is this a case that whatever went wrong happened in literally the final few seconds of the flig flight?

>> you know, i think we'll have a better accepts of that when we have an opportunity to audition the voice cockpit recorder. they are on our labs to washington . they were recovered yesterday evening and sent back on a red eye flight under federal escort to washington . when we have an opportunity to audition that information, we probably will have a better sense of what was going on in those last few minutes and if we have an opportunity to interview the pilots that will give us information as well.

>> i know your investigations are thorough. they don't always happen on our time line but you have a lot of work ahead of you. ntsb chairman debbie hersman, thank you