하지만 함께 브리핑에 나선 문길주 국토부 항공철도사고조사위원회 사무국장은 NTSB가 오토스로틀과 엔진 등에 이상이 없었다고 발표해 조종사 과실에 초점을 두는 것이 아니냐는 질문에 "과실에 무게를 두는 것은 아니고 사실만 얘기한 것 같다"고 답했다.
문 국장은 조종사 4명에 대한 1차 조사 후에 추가로 확인할 것이 있어서 2명을 더 조사한 것으로 안다면서 조사단이 사고 후 90초 정도가 지나서 대피를 지시한 기장의 조치가 적합했는지 등을 조사했다고 전했다.
국토부는 또 사고 당시 활주로 부근에서 공사나 다른 작업이 진행된 것은 없는 것으로 확인됐다고 설명하며 항공사의 정비 상황을 확인한 결과 규정 위반은 없었다는 NTSB의 발표를 전했다.
이날 비행자료 기록장치(FDR)와 조종사 음성기록장치(CVR)를 1차 분석하는 작업도 완료됐다.
문 국장은 FDR의 1천400개 비행자료 가운데 사고와 중요하다고 판단되는 220개를 뽑아 분석했다고 설명했다.
비행기 동체는 샌프란시스코공항의 격납고 등으로 옮겨 보관하는데 동체 날개 뒤를 잘라 특히 앞부분을 정밀조사하게 된다.
이에 따라 NTSB는 현장조사를 이날로 마무리했다. 우리 조사단은 미국 측과 협의해 철수 시점을 결정하게 된다.
한편 장 과장은 NTSB가 통상 최종보고서에 12∼18개월이 걸리지만 이번 조사는 12개월에 끝내겠다고 한 것에 대해 "국제민간항공기구(ICAO) 규정에는 기본적으로 조사 종료 시점은 1년으로 잡고 사고 규모에 따라 늘어날 수 있다"면서 "사회적 관심이 많으니 원인을 빨리 밝혀 의혹을 해소하는 게 좋겠다고 보는 것 같다"고 해석 했다.
<관련 영문 기사>
‘No sign of mechanical faults in Boeing 777’
NTSB investigators put focus on pilot error in crash landing of Asiana jet in San Francisco
By Lee Ji-yoon and news reports
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday (local time) that the engines and automatic flight controls were working normally on the doomed Asiana Airlines flight that crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport last Saturday.
Two Chinese teenagers were killed and 180 of the 307 people on board were hurt, most with minor injuries, when the airliner, completing a 11-hour trip from Seoul, smashed into a seawall bordering the airport’s runway.
“The engines and the flight control services appear to be responding as expected,” NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman said in her final news briefing before the team concludes the on-site investigation.
“There is no anomalous behavior of the autopilot, of the flight director, and of the autothrottles.”
The NTSB chief said investigators have found no sign of mechanical problems during the Asiana flight, or with the Boeing 777-200ER jetliner, putting the focus of the ongoing probe on the pilots at the controls.
Korea’s Transport Ministry, however, made it clear on Friday that any malfunctions in the autothrottle still needed to be investigated based on flight data recorder that is being analyzed currently at the NTSB’s Washington headquarters.
“We are looking at what the NTSB announcement indicates exactly,” said Jang Man-hee, an aviation policy director at the ministry at a briefing in Seoul when he was asked if the NTSB announcement indicates possible pilot error.
“We still need to investigate other recording systems, especially flight data recorder,” he added.
During the first five days of the NTSB investigation, Hersman has said repeatedly that pilots Lee Gang-kuk, who was landing the big jet for his first time at the airport, and his supervisor, Lee Jeong-Min, were ultimately responsible for a safe landing.
Investigators stressed again that they are looking at all possibilities and no firm conclusions have been reached. The NTSB team will soon head back to its headquarters in Washington with “a mountain of information” to analyze and review and the agency’s final evaluation is expected to take more than a year.
Hersman confirmed Thursday that Lee, the pilot at the controls, told investigators he saw a flash of light at about 500 feet about 34 seconds before impact. But the chairwoman said Lee told investigators that the light did not prevent him from seeing his instruments and that it may have been a reflection of the sun. Other pilots made no mention of a light, she said.
She also said there were two calls to abort the landing, the first came about three seconds before impact, the second, from a different pilot, about 1.5 seconds later.
While the pilots were manually flying the jet for the landing, as expected on a clear, sunny day, they said they thought the airliner’s speed was being controlled by an autothrottle.
Inspectors found that the autothrottle had been “armed,” or made ready for activation, she said. But the team is still determining whether it had been engaged.
Even if the autothrottle malfunctioned, Hersman stressed, the pilots were ultimately responsible for control of the airliner.
“There are two pilots in the cockpit for a reason,” she said. “They’re there to fly, to navigate, to communicate and if they’re using automation, a big key is to monitor.”