SAN FRANCISCO — When the battered Asiana Boeing 777 skidded to a stop after its crash-landing here Saturday, two flight attendants went to the cockpit to ask the three pilots inside what to do, and the pilots told them to delay evacuating the airplane while they communicated with the tower, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday.
The evacuation did not begin until another flight attendant sent a message to the front that he saw a fire outside, said the chairwoman, Deborah A.P. Hersman. The safety board is using the crash of the plane, in which two passengers died, to learn about what it calls "survival factors."
The evacuation started about 1 1/2 minutes after the plane came to rest, according to video evidence, she said. The cockpit crew's decision is certain to be the subject of second-guessing, but she said the men in the cockpit were not able to see behind them.
Hersman remained vague about what had happened to the auto-throttles, devices that can be set to maintain a minimum safe speed, which the crew believed were working but were not.