Asiana crash: Pilots of crashed plane return to South Korea

SEOUL (AFP) - Pilots of the Asiana Airlines passenger jet which crash landed in San Francisco have returned to South Korea after being quizzed by US aviation officials, officials said on Sunday.

The four pilots returned home on Saturday - a week after the fatal crash - and would face another probe by officials in Seoul after their medical checkup ends on Tuesday, the South Korean transportation ministry said.

The Boeing 777 passenger jet from Shanghai and with a stop in Seoul had its tail clip a sea wall at the airport and skidded out of control before catching fire, leaving three dead and more than 180 injured.

Two Chinese teenage girls died immediately after the accident and another girl, also a Chinese, died of injuries on Friday.

Seoul officials will investigate whether the pilots "complied with aviation and airport rules as well as whether they were holding appropriate training session", the ministry said in a statement.

Two of the four pilots onboard were in the cockpit and questions have been raised whether their perceived lack of experience in flying the B777 played a role in the accident - the carrier's first passenger jet crash in 20 years.

Lee Kang-Kuk, a pilot for some 10 years, was at the controls and in the middle of a training to fly the B777, which he flew some 40 hours previously.

Lee Jung-Min, acting as co-pilot and the trainer, received his teaching license for the particular aircraft a month before the accident although he had flown B777 some 3,200 hours previously.

Asiana has rejected the speculation as "intolerable" and argued the pair were "competent" veterans with nearly or more than 10,000 flying hours including dozens of flights to San Francisco.

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