SFO Reopens Runway After Deadly Plane Crash

SFO runway 28L reopened Friday

Runway 28L, damaged in the deadly Asiana Airlines crash landing at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, reopened late Friday afternoon.

Authorities said the runway, which was closed for investigations and repairs, was back up and running at 5:05 p.m. That was two days ahead of earlier estimates.

A Southwest flight was the first plane to land on the reopened runway.

Earlier in the day, a bizarre site was seen on the runway as crews removed the fuselage of Asiana Flight 214.

The wreckage was cut apart and towed away in two large sections starting at 3:30 a.m. The entire process could be seen by travelers on other planes taking off and landing at the airport at the time.

SFO Spokesman Doug Yakel said just the removal of the plane is a big milestone for the airport.

At one point overnight, smoke could be seen coming from the site of the wreckage.  Yakel said cutting through all the metal of the fuselage was the likely source of smoke. He said crews saw smoke, but not fire and were able to quickly extinguish it.

Yakel said from that point on they were very cautious moving the sections of the plane because they didn’t want it to buckle.

The debris will be stored for the next week or so at a remote area of the airport. Asiana will ultimately determine what they want to do with it. 

Prior to opening the runway, SFO crews had to clear the area of debris and complete repairs for damage from the crash.

Some of the work on the runway included cleaning up spilled jet  fuel, checking electrical systems, repairing runway lights and fixing damage  to the seawall.

Before it reopened, Runway 28L was out of commission since the crash late Saturday morning, causing constant delays and cancellations for travelers this week.

Below is a time-lapse of the removal posted by Spectra Media Corp that shows the overnight process.

Also Friday, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr  confirmed that one of the three victims killed in Saturday’s crash was hit by a fire truck at the scene.

Suhr said investigators are still waiting for more information from the Coroner’s office to determine whether or not it played a role in her death.

A spokesman for the police said the area was covered in foam, a fire truck moved over to reposition itself to battle the flames and the passenger victim was found in tire tracks.

There is also new "forensic animation" of the crash which gives a correct scale of the crash landing.

You can see that below:

Late Thursday night, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Jackie Speier toured the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash site at San Francisco International Airport.

The congresswomen said they are considering new law requiring all pilots to be tested for drugs and alcohol after a crash. Currently, only US carriers are required for testing.

Federal investigators earlier in the day said the pilot who was flying the Asiana jet that crash-landed at SFO Saturday said his vision was not affected by the bright flash of light he saw ahead of the plane on his final approach into the airport.

Still, during the final descent of Flight 214's last 500 feet above ground, the flight crew made no comment on its lagging speed until just nine seconds before impact, flight data indicated, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

The first call to abort the landing came about three seconds before impact, and the second — from a different pilot — came about 1.5 seconds later, Hersman said.

There were no anomalies in the operation of the autopilot, auto-throttle or flight director systems in the plane, she added.

Three people died and 180 of the 307 passengers were hurt when Flight 214 slammed into a seawall Saturday at the end of the runway, after having come in too low and too slow. The impact ripped off the back of the plane and tossed three flight attendants and their seats onto the runway.

THE INTERVIEW: One-on-One with NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman

A dozen survivors remain hospitalized, half flight attendants, including three thrown from the jet. One of those six flight attendants was released from the hospital earlier this week.

NTSB investigators say the flight attendants were crucial in getting everyone off the plane safely.

Hersman said the pilot trainee told investigators he was blinded by a light at about 500 feet, which would have been 34 seconds before impact and the point at which the airliner began to slow and drop precipitously.

Hersman told NBC Bay Area in an interview Thursday that the flash was not a laser.

Crash survivors and their families visited the wreckage at SFO Wednesday night before the clean up began.

Ben Levy, who previously shared his first-hand account on the plane with NBC Bay Area,  was on the bus trip. He said some people cried while others seemed stunned.

Levy said he was hoping to talk to people who experienced the same life-changing event.

Plane wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at SFO. Image from NTSB press brief held Thursday, July 11, 2013.

"I think we are all connected for life," he said. "I want to get to know the people who were on the plane, it helps me grasp it better."

Levy is recovering from bruised ribs and cuts from the crash. He said he is feeling better, but wants to get a complete picture of what happened once Flight 214 came to a rest.

He was able to learn more details during the visit to the wreckage site.

"What did they go through? Which door they went through and how they felt. To me it was about connecting," he said.

Levy would also like to connect with flight attendant Yoon Hye Lee.

Many are calling her a hero for helping so many people off the plane.

Levy says it was Lee who came to the back of the plane where he was helping free people and told him to get out.

"She got me out. She came to the back of the plane grabbed me and pulled me out," Levy said. "She stayed later than I did."

Levy said there were many heroes on board Saturday. But he would like to see Lee before she heads back to Korea to share a calm moment together.

The flight originated in Shanghai and stopped over in Seoul before making the nearly 11-hour trip to San Francisco.

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