Nightly News   |  July 06, 2013

NTSB to investigate San Francisco plane crash

The debris seems to show Flight 214 came only a few feet from landing in the San Francisco Bay. As it was, the plane impacted at the very point the water meets land, well short of the place it should have touched down. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>> debris seems to show flight 214 came only a few feet landing in the san francisco bay . it impacted at the very point water meets land, well short of the place it should have touched down. nbc's tom costello, who covers aviation for us, picks it up from there.

>> reporter: good evening, lester. no evidence of criminal or terrorist activity. in fact this crew never, in fact, issued a distress call this appears to be a terrible accident. off the runway, in the field at san francisco international airport , the burned out, broken remains of flight 214 . emergency slides deployed on both sides of the aircraft. the boeing was at the very end of a very long 12-hour flight from seoul, south korea . close to 300 passengers and crew members on board. at 11:27 a.m . pacific time , the plane approaching 28 left when eyewitnesss say the tail slammed into the seawall, just feet before the start of the runway. the pilot quickly called for help.

>> 214 heavy. asiana 214 heavy, emergency vehicles responding. everyone on their way.

>> reporter: controllers told multiple planes in the air on final approach to go around. stephanie turner saw the plane coming in and knew something wasn't right.

>> we had been watching the runway and i had my camera out taking a picture and i noticed an arriving plane was coming in, and i could tell that the angle was bad. like it should have been flattened out by then, but it was really more like at a 45 degree angle with the tail very low.

>> i didn't see when it actually hit the ground, that's the boom i heard. i heard a poboom, paused, and looked out the window and saw it tumbling.

>> witnesses reported many survivors.

>> i do know people were removed from the aircraft and transported. the exact status of injured and uninjured, i don't have numbers.

>> reporter: the plane's tail was too low, hitting the seawall and slamming the fuselage on the runway.

>> if that's the case, the airline is on the ground much too early and that's something investigators will look at closely.

>> reporter: the crew had not issued any sort of distress call , suggesting they were not working any mechanical problem prior to the accident. as the plane skidded down the runway it left a debris trail, starting at the seawall. an ntsb go team en route to san francisco .

>> we'll look at the airport to find cockpit recorders, flight data recorders, functioning at the time of the accident. looking to get information from them, as well as document the accident scene.

>> this 777, very fogood safety record. no fatalities associated with a 777 crash.