SAN FRANCISCO — Hersman also said that a third pilot in the jump seat of the cockpit told investigators he was warning them their speed was too slow as they approached the runway.
And she said when the plane came to a stop, pilots told passengers to stay seated for 90 seconds while they communicated with the tower as part of a safety procedure. Hersman said this has happened after earlier accidents and was not necessarily a problem. People did not begin fleeing the aircraft until 90 seconds later when a fire was spotted outside the plane.
Hersman stressed that while the trainee pilot was flying the plane, the instructor was ultimately responsible, and thus the way they worked together will be scrutinized.
"That's what the airline needs to do, be responsible so that in the cockpit you're matching the best people, especially when you're introducing someone to a new aircraft," former NTSB Chairman James Hall said.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics professor Mary Cummings said it's common for two commercial pilots who have never worked together before to be assigned to the same flight.
But she said the military tries to have crews work together more permanently.
"Research would tell you that crew pairing with the same people over longer periods of time is safer," she said. "When two people fly together all the time, you get into a routine that's more efficient. You have experience communicating."
Jeff Skiles, a US Airways first officer, said that with the right training it should not matter if a pilot new to a plane is paired with a pilot making his first trip as a training captain.
"Everybody had to have their first time," Skiles said. "You can't show up and have 500 hours experience in aircraft."