[Animation] The most detailed and realistic look at the Asiana Air 214 crash landing at San Francisco

A new “forensic animation”, made by Eyewithness Animationas and published by several media outlets, provides the most detailed and realistic look (in terms of airspeeds, altitudes, etc. ATC audio recordings are not synchronized), of the crash landing of Asiana Air 214 at San Francisco.

The animation is particularly interesting as it also shows the path the plane should have taken and the path it did take as it crash landed on runway 28L at KSFO on Jul. 6, 2013.

The animation shows the plane getting below the glide path and the pilot pulling up when it’s already too late to recover: the main landing gear hits the sea wall and the tail detaches from the plane.

Then, the left engine breaks away from the wing and the plane becomes airborne once again as it yaws and slides on the grass.

Even if all new aircraft seats are designed to withstand 16g forward, 16 forward at 10 degrees and 14g down, many passengers flying in economy class suffered spinal injuries: unlike business class section passengers, who had harness seat belts that prevented such injuries, passengers in the back had only lap belts, hence they slammed their heads into the seat in front of them.

Still, the aircraft did not capsize, otherwise very few passengers would have survived.

The scene of the aircraft about to hit the sea wall with the gear reminds the following famous U.S. Navy photo, showing Lieutenant Tom Reilly, a Landing Signal Officer (LSO), racing across the deck to avoid an approaching F7U-3 Cutlass about to crash on the Hancock aircraft carrier on Jul. 14, 1955.


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Couple of points, at the end of the day will this end up with an Airbus pilot caught in transition to a Boeing product. Am I wrong or does it seem if he hadn’t pulled the nose up, it might have just been a really hard landing. Finally, business class have 3 point harnesses, is this standard, and why not similar for “cattle class” in the back (which is where I usually am)?

  2. The animation shows the flight path the plane did take and the path it should have taken. But it doesn’t show the difference in speed. The real Flight 214 had run out of airspeed AND altitude as it dropped below level of the navaid walkways extending out over the water. At the same speed, the ‘ghost’ plane would have down in ground effect with 214.

    As reported by NPR on July 8: “Three seconds before it struck the ground Saturday, the speed of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, a Boeing 777, was 103 knots — the lowest measured
    by its data recorders, and far below the target speed of 137 knots, says
    National Transportation Board Chairman Deborah Hersman.”

    The animation isn’t showing a 34 knot difference in speed, almost 25%, very important to understand what happened.

    And “KSFO” is a radio or TV station. “SFO” is the three letter code for San Francisco International.

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