Lee Kang-kook, Asiana Pilot: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

lee kang-kook san francisco pilot crash

On Saturday, Lee Kang-kook and other crew members piloted Asiana flight 214. As the crew was ending its flight from Incheon in South Korean to San Francisco International Airport when it crashed into the San Francisco runway. Of the 291 passengers on board and 16 crew members, 2 were killed and around 180 were injured. Lee began his career with Asiana as an intern with the airline in 1994.

Here is what you need to know about the pilot of the crashed plane:

1. It was His First Time Making that Flight

San Francisco Plane Crash, San Francisco Airport Plane Crash.

This is the route we believe was being made by the flight.

A spokeswoman for Asiana Airlines said in a statement today that Flight 214 was Lee Kang-Kook’s “maiden flight” on the Boeing 777 flying the route from Incheon to San Francisco. Although, he had flown into San Francisco International Airport on different aircrafts a reported 29 times.

2. He had Only 43 Hours on the Boeing 777

Boeing 777, crash, plane crash, NTSB, San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JULY 06: A Boeing 777 airplane lies burned on the runway after it crash landed at San Francisco International Airport July 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California. An Asiana Airlines passenger aircraft coming from Seoul, South Korea crashed while landing. There has been no official confirmation of casualties. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Not only was Lee Kang-kook making his first flight on that specific route in a Boeing 777, this voyage was also only his 10th time in the cockpit of a Boeing 777. Before Saturday’s flight, his total time flying that particular aircraft was 43 hours.

3. He Has 9,793 Flight Hours


Asiana Airlines spokeswoman Lee Hyo-min told the press that despite the pilots’s lack of experience on the Boeing 777, he is still an seasoned pilot. Lee Kang-kook has totaled 9,793 flight hours on aircrafts like the popular Boeing 747. Hyo-min said that on new aircraft, “even a veteran gets training.”

4. It was a Training Flight

Lee Kang-kook was in training to get licensed on the Boeing 777 when the plane went down. He was one of four pilots on the flight, and the “second most junior ” of the four. His more experienced co-pilot was Lee Jeong-min, who has logged over 2,330 hours flying the 777.

5. The Plane was Going too Slow

The chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board Deborah Hersman said in a press conference that the plane was going far too slow for a proper landing. She said the plane was “significantly below” the required 137 knots for landing, and added, “and we’re not talking about a few knots.”

You can watch the full video of Hersman’s press conference above.

6. No Problems Occurred Until the Last 7 Seconds

san francisco plane crash pilot

The investigation of the crash begins.

According to initial NTSB findings, the cockpit recording equipment did not detect any problems until the last 7 seconds before the ground made impact with the runway. At the 7 second mark, the crew attempted to increase the speed of the plane. Deborah Hersman reported that the plane responded normally but it may have been too little too late. At 4 seconds before impact, the “stick-shaker” sounds, a device that warns the pilot of an impending engine stall.

7. The Crew tried to Abort the Landing

pilot san francisco plane crash asiana

Sensing that the landing would not go well, Hersman reported that the cockpit recordings record a crew member request a “go around,” meaning an attempt to abort the landing, pull up, and try to land again. This occurs just 1.5 seconds before the massive Boeing 777 made contact with the runway.

8. There is a ‘Human Performance Investigator’

lee kang-kook pilot san francisco

Flight recorder recovered from Asiana flight 214.

In the coming months, the NTSB has stated the crew will be under investigation by a “Human Performance Investigator.” This persons job is to uncover what, if any, human failures or factors could have contributed to the crash. Among other things, NTSB chairwoman Hersman said the investigator will conudct, “72 hour work-rest history, drug and alcohol testing, fatigue and sleep disorder testing, “CRM” crew recourse management-communication between the crew.”

9. The NTSB Have Not Determined if it was Human Error

When asked if human error is what caused the plane to crash on Saturday, the NTSB chairwoman responded that it has not been officially determined as to what role human error caused in the deadly incident. She said that the investigation will likely take up to 18 months.

10. A Study Has Shown That Pilots are Tired

san francisco plane crash pilot investigation

This crash and its investigation into potential human error comes in the wake of a startling study put out by the National Sleep Foundation last year that 20 percent of pilots surveyed, “admitted that they have made a serious error because of sleepiness.” There has also been a lot of media attention over the years to the high occurrence of alcoholism among commercial pilots contributed partially to Denzel Washington’s 2012 movie “Flight.”

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