TODAY   |  July 09, 2013

What a pilot sees while landing a 777

As investigators sifting through the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 try to get inside the minds of the crew at the time of the crash, TODAY’s Matt Lauer makes a simulated Boeing 777 landing to reveal a pilot’s-eye view of the process.

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

>>> crash. the tragic crash of asiana flight 214 . the pilot was making his first landing in a 777 at san francisco 's airport. this morning we're able to give you a better idea of what the crew was facing in the cockpit.

>> as investigators sift through the wreckage of flight 214 they're also trying to get inside the cockpit and the minds of the crew at the time of the crash.

>> we're looking at what they were doing and we want to understand why they were doing it.

>> as the approach run way 28-l on saturday the pilot had a view similar to this one.

>> you're flying manually now.

>> all right.

>> a view i got to experience firsthand in a 777 flight simulator in 2007 . like my simulated landing, the descent was routine and uneventful until something went wrong in the final seconds.

>> too low, too slow. that's usually a disasterous outcome.

>> he is a former 777 pilot who made hundreds of landings at the san francisco airport .

>> most of us would say this is my first landing in san francisco , watch me, make sure i don't do anything stupid.

>> this would be a normal approach.

>> reporter: in this simulation he gives us an idea what the pilot of flight 214 was seeing as he approached the same run way. the flight data recorded shows a normal speed of 154 miles per hour at 500 feet but a few seconds later it drops to 136 miles per hour. well below what it should have been at 200 feet.

>> i am not over the run way.

>> yeah you are.

>> reporter: at the same altitude in my simulated landing i had a hard time gauging my position. he says he tells pilots when that happens so close to the ground , it's always better to be safe.

>> if you're not 100% positive about this approach, go around.

>> reporter: cockpit voice recordings indicate he made the decision to go around but by the time the engines accelerated it was too late.

>> as you watch that, a spokesperson for the airline asiana said that any discussion that inexperience played a role in this part on the part of the pilot is inaccurate. they talk about how many hours in any plane this pilot had.

>> more than 10,000.

>> and 43 hours behind the controls of a 777. but as you come in, it's difficult to gauge your surroundings.

>> it's nerve racking. it's an exact science being able to land that plane.

>> no question.

>> and the investigation is far