On what all this means by way of explanation, I give you the views of another airline pilot who wrote in last night. As with some previous notes, I'm not going to explain all the flying lingo. You will get the main point.
I've been a captain on the B-777 for over 13 years, 10,000 in the B-777, and a check captain for more than 10 of those years for one of the three major US carriers. I have no interest in public attention, but the reporting on the TV and radio has been atrociously inaccurate, including by "experienced airline pilots" who have never flown the aircraft. Aircraft are not all interchangeable and skills are sometimes poorly transferred - like one of our pilots who shutdown the "outboards" to save fuel, but was on a two engine aircraft after leaving a four engine aircraft.
Several issues not yet reported widely and are significant:
Visual landings to a runway with a displaced threshold can be misleading. The displacements exist for a variety of reasons - obstructions, noise sensitivity (look at 34L at Narita), or others. The seawall may be the reason for 28L at SFO; the reasons are not explained.
More significantly, the B-777 is a flying simulator. The dozens of military and commercial aircraft I have flown will pitch up with thrust added for any number of reasons. This particularly true for aircraft with engines hanging from pylons below the wings. The DC-10 crash in Iowa was partially controlled with thrust from engines 1 and 3 by the flight instructor sitting in the flight engineer middle seat. The B-777 is programmed to cancel any aerodynamic or thrust vector caused by thrust addition or reduction; Pitch is unchanged. If the pilot flying is used to an aircraft pitching up when additional thrust is applied, he will be sorely disappointed.
There has been considerable opinion differences between the THRUST vs PITCH crowds in aviation. After overlapping careers, 40 years as a Certified Flight Instructor, 20 years as a Navy pilot, and 35 years as a commercial pilot, the argument continues. If the pilot just raised the nose and was already low and slow, he was on the "backside of the power curve". Raising the nose only lowered the tail further and there was insufficient "ground effect" due in part to the height difference of the runway and the bay as well as the insufficient speed.
Thrust was the only way to save this poorly executed approach.
When the engines are "spooled up" with landing flaps and landing gear extended, the engine response should be very good. But the Autothrottle system can be turned off, removing a lower limit of airspeed eliminating automatic throttle increase when slow.
The Boeing engineers are today's equivalents of the "rocket scientist", both whom have experienced a declination in status between the space shuttle accidents and the B-787 multi-year delays and battery problems. Be careful of dedicated experts.
New guy, bad behavior transfer, no copilot help from multiple copilots (could be cultural, deference to the captain), displaced threshold, inoperative glideslope transmitter, inoperative VASI lights, some backup flight systems possibly selected off, minimal initial operating experience (line operational instruction with a check pilot), and other factors will come out of this NTSB investigation.
Some more in the queue, bu