The Boeing 777 is considered one of the safest planes in the sky yet it was the model that tragically crashed in San Francisco’s International Airport July 6 killing two 16 year old Chinese girls. Officials are trying to piece together what led to the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 accident. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are analyzing air-traffic control records, weather, aircraft maintenance and the crew’s actions from data recorders aboard the plane. Here is what you need to know about the history of the model.
1. This is the First Boeing 777 Accident Involving Passengers Fatalities
The crash is only the second major accident for the twin-engine, wide-bodied jet in the 18 years the model has been in service, aviation safety experts said. “The 777 has a fantastic record,” said Tom Haueter, who retired last year from the National Transportation Safety Board, where he was the head of aviation accident investigations. The only other fatality involving the twinjet occurred in a refueling fire at Denver International Airport on September 5, 2001, during which a ground worker sustained fatal burns.The aircraft, operated by British Airways, suffered fire damage to the lower wing panels and engine housing; it was later repaired and put back into service.
2. It is Commonly referred to as the “Triple Seven”
The triple-7 is one of the safest airplanes in use, it’s been a marvelous bird,” ABC News‘ aviation analyst John Nance told ABC News Radio. “These airplanes are over the water, over the ocean all the time and Asiana has been running them many years very successfully.”
3. It is the World’s Largest Twinjet
The Boeing 777 is the largest airplane powered by two engines. It typical seats 314 to 451 passengers, with a range of 5,235 to 9,380 nautical miles (9,695 to 17,370 km), depending on the version.
4. The 777 Has Been Subject to 8 Other Aviation Occurrences
As of 2013, the 777 has been in eight aviation occurrences, including three hull-loss accidents, and three hijackings.
The type’s first hull-loss occurred on January 17, 2008, when British Airways Flight 38, a 777-200ER with Rolls-Royce Trent 895 engines flying from Beijing to London, crash-landed approximately 1,000 feet short of Heathrow Airport’s runway 27L and slid onto the runway’s threshold. There were 47 injuries and no fatalities. Two other minor momentary losses of thrust with Trent 895 engines occurred in February and November 2008. The National Transportation Safety Board investigators concluded that, just as on BA38, the loss of power was caused by ice in the fuel clogging the fuel-oil heat exchanger. As a result, the heat exchanger was redesigned. The recent Asiana crash marks the third hull-loss incident.
5. More Than 50 Carriers Use the 777
Dozens of carriers including British Airways, American Airlines and Delta carry the 777 model. The 777-200 entered into service with United Airlines on June 7, 1995 with its first flight from London Heathrow Airport to Dulles International Airport.From day one, the 777 was awarded 180-minute ETOPS clearance by the Federal Aviation Administration, making it the first airliner to carry an ETOPS-180 clearance into service.