Boeing 777 Records First Fatalities in Its 18 Year History

PHOTO: Asiana Airlines flight crashed at San Francisco airport
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The Boeing 777, considered one of safest aircrafts in the sky, recorded the first fatalities since it was launched 18 years ago when the Asiana Airlines crashed at San Francisco Airport today.

"The triple-7 is one of the safest airplanes in use, it's been a marvelous bird," ABC News' aviation analyst John Nance told ABC News Radio. "These airplanes are over the water, over the ocean all the time and Asiana has been running them many years very successfully."

On Saturday an Asiana Airlines flight crash landed at San Francisco International Airport, catching fire, tearing off its tail and injuring at least 40.

The Boeing 777 -- called the "Triple 7" within the industry -- began flying in 1995. According to Boeing, the first Boeing 777 plane is still in service and has accumulated 5 million flights and accumulated more than 18 million flight hours. The plane that crashed today was seven years old.

According to a Boeing report, the 777 has been involved in two hull loss accidents, which means the aircraft suffered damage, although neither accident involved fatalities.

The fatalities in today's crash were the first recorded in a Boeing 777 plane.

The Asiana plane that is now laying wrecked on the San Francisco airport runway was powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, the company said. Pratt & Whitney said they are cooperating with the investigation, but said, "We are unable to offer any further comment as the investigation is ongoing."

The last crash landing involving a Boeing 777 occurred when a British Airways flight from Beijing tried landing at London's Heathrow in 2007. The plane landed short of the runway, barely missing nearby rooftops and a taxi cab, after the engines became clogged with ice crystals in the fuel. After the accident, Boeing identified the problem as being related to the fuel-oil heat exchange in the Rolls-Royce made engines, Rolls-Royce developed a modification that the European Aviation Safety Agency mandated be used in all affected aircraft by January 1, 2011.

Asiana Airlines has 71 aircraft and flies approximately 14.7 million passengers each year. In 2004 an Asiana Airlines cargo jet crashed off the coast of South Korea, killing two crew members.

The last U.S. commercial aviation crash with fatalities took place in 2009 when Colgan Air 3407 crashed en route to Buffalo, NY., killing 49 people on board and one person on the ground.

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