Added by Erik West on July 28, 2011
A cargo plane with two flight crew aboard is reported to have crashed into the waters near the island of Jeju, South Korea on Thursday.
The 747-400 cargo jet crashed after crew reported mechanical problems and lost contact with air traffic controllers. Asiana Airlines, one of South Korea’s major airlines, operates the Boeing 747-400. The flight was en route from Seoul’s Incheon airport to Shanghai Pudong airport in China when crew reported mechanical difficulties about 140km from Jeju island. The aircraft, built in 2006 and with more than 26,000 hours of flying time, disappeared from radar shortly after loosing radio contact with air traffic controllers.
Debris of the aircraft was found in the waters off Jeju by a coast guard patrol boat, yet the plane itself has not yet been located.
South Korea has been hit with very heavy rainfalls during this week, with the Korea Meteorological Agency stating that it has received three quarters of the season’s rainfall in the past two days. Landslides caused by the rain killed at least 32 people on Wednesday.The nation’s tourism site reports that South Korea currently gets more rain as compared to the rain it received in the past, due to global climate change.
Coast guard officials said there was no rain in the area two hours after the estimated crash time and it is unclear if weather played a role in the crash. Officials continue to investigate.
Update (July 29 2011)
A pilot aboard the cargo plane that crashed reported a fire just before the plane lost radio contact with air traffic controllers.
Minutes before the plane disappeared from radar screens the pilot yelled “Cargo fire!” and “Emergency!”, the plane’s automated systems also signaled an emergency to Jeju International Airport, where it was trying to land.
The name of the pilot is Choi Sang-ki; the co-pilot’s name was unavailable.
The flight was transporting a various items including computers, semiconductors, and paints, to Pudong, China.
Update (July 30 2011)
The cargo plain is reported to have been carrying Lithium-ion batteries. The US FAA previously issued a warning about the transport of Lithium-ion batteries in cargo planes and their potential to cause an on-board fire.
US regulators are currently considering sweeping changes to cargo regulations that include a changes to the handling and transport of Lithium-ion batteries.
The US FAA has been asked by the airline to assist in the investigation.