Meet the Press   |  July 07, 2013

Investigators have a lot of evidence to weed through

Tom Costello and Chairman of the NTSB, Deborah Hersman discuss the latest developments on the crash landing in San Francisco.

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

>>> to go to our developing story this morning. tom costello covers aviation for nbc news. he's got the latest on the tragic crash landing in san francisco that claimed the lives of two chinese citizens and sent 182 passengers to area hospitals. tom, as you have done some initial reporting, what is what they know tell us about what happened?

>> reporter: this is asiana airlines flight 214 coming from seoul in south korea , 10 1/2-hour flight into san francisco airport , and on approach at about 11:27 yesterday morning on runway 28 left, apparently by all accounts this plaenl came in a little low and a little slow according to eyewitnesses and literally the tail slammed into the sea barrier wall just before runway 28 left begins. the plane then slammed down onto the runway and skidded down the runway before then going into a grassy area. immediately the emergency chutes deployed. there was an evacuation of all 300-plus people on board this plane. unfortunately, as you reported, there were a couple of fatalities. the investigation is now going to focus on why this happened, of course. was it pilot error ? was there a mechanical issue? was there some sort of an avionics issue? it is interesting that the president of asiana airlines this morning said he does not believe that there was an engine problem. now, the ntsb investigators have really not spent a whole lot of time in those engines yet, so what does the president of the airline know that perhaps investigators haven't yet ascertained? has he been speaking with his crew? has the crew already suggested what the cause of this was? was it crew cents a share that's going to be very much the focus of the investigation. the ntsb has already now recovered the black box and the cockpit voice and flight data recorders. they'll be on their way to washington, d.c., and they hope they'll learn from those what was being said and discussed in the cockpit but also what was happening on all those avionic flight data screens in front of them in the cockpit.

>> tom costello starting us off this morning. thanks very much. the chairman of the ntsb , who is on the ground in san francisco , debby hersman joins me now. chairman, you've said this morning off lot of good information to start going through. describe what that is.

>> well, we have a good number of survivors, and i think we're very thankful that the numbers were not worse when it came to fatalities and injuries. it could have been much worse. we have crew that survived that we can interview. and significantly, we have cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders that have been recovered, went back on a red eye last night under federal escort to d.c. we hope to audition those in our headquarters in the next 24 hours .

>> i know you have an opportunity with investigators to actually go through that burned-out fuselage. those pictures are dramatic of you, also the aftermath of this flight. the bit of information that you do have, no distress calls reportedly from the flight crew , and as tom costello mentioned reports from the airline that there was no engine trouble. i realize you can't make conclusions. what does that lead you to believe, though, at this point?

>> you know, we have a lot of information to go through, and i think at this point everything is still on the table for us. we have to not only identify what we're focused on but also to rule things out. to do that we need good evidence, we need to document that. we need to corroborate that with information from air traffic control teams, radar, flight data recorder information, vok pit voice recorder information. we'll have our first full day on scene and our team will be very busy.

>> anything at this point you've been able to rule out? the weather, terrorism, other aspects of the crash?

>> we have no indication that there was a criminal act involved here. but i can tell you we have an excellent working relationship with our law enforcement counterparts, particularly the fbi that supports us in our work. we will continue to work with them. no indication of a criminal act at this point. good weather conditions. vfr, good visibility. we know that. we will be look at all of that information as part of our investigation as we begin to comb through all of the data. we're looking at hundreds of parameters potentially on a flight data recorder . that will gives us a lot of insight into this aircraft and what was going on.

>> chairman debby hersman, thanks for joining us this morning.

>> thank you.