Bad weather has prevented search teams from pinpointing the exact location of the Asiana Boeing 747-400F that crashed into the sea last week following an on-board fire.
The aircraft, registration HL-7604, went missing off Jeju Island while en-route from Seoul to Shanghai's Pudong International airport on 28 July.
The crew had reported "control problems" at an altitude of 7,600ft and that there was a fire in the hold, said the South Korean Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime affairs (MLTMA). It had diverted to Jeju International airport when it crashed, it added. Asiana contracted Japan's Nippon Salvage Company on 2 August to aid in the search efforts. The search team includes officials from the ministry and Asiana.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has also dispatched a team to aid the investigation. NTSB has designated safety investigator John Lovell as the US accredited representative in the investigation, and he will be assisted by NTSB staff and advisors from the US FAA and Boeing.
"We have not found the exact location of the crash, and Asiana does not know how deep the water is," said the airline. Local media reported that the Jeju coast guard found parts of the aircraft, including the cockpit seats and sections of wing, about 122km (76mi) southwest of Jeju.
The search mission was halted due to bad weather on 3 August, said the carrier, with a typhoon projected to hit the country today. It is not clear when the search operation will resume.
MLTMA said on 29 July that while the "fire probably caused the crash", its exact role in the incident has not yet been determined. The aircraft was carrying cargo that included lithium batteries, paint and other potentially dangerous materials. While there is no immediate evidence that the cargo contributed to the accident, lithium batteries are considered a potentially hazardous because they pose the risk of in-flight fire.
A UPS 747-400F, which crashed in Dubai in September 2010, was transporting lithium batteries when the aircraft suffered a fire in cruise and attempted to divert.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news