The chief executive of a South Korean airline defended pilots at the center of investigations into a fatal plane crash in San Francisco, saying the pair have sufficient experience and competence.

Asiana Airlines CEO Yoon Young-Doo said the pilots of the ill-fated Boeing 777 were “very competent” amid allegations the crash had been caused by pilot error.

Yoon will travel to California to meet transport safety officials and victims.

“I feel tremendous responsibility for those affected by the crash,” Yoon told reporters in Seoul.

US investigators said they begun questioning the cockpit crew, including the two pilots – Lee Kang-kuk and Lee Jung-min.

Lee Kang-kuk, the pilot at the controls, was still undergoing training on the 777 and was his first time to land on that model of aircraft. He had led 29 flights to San Francisco on 747s in the past.

Lee Jung-min, who was acting as trainer and co-pilot at the time of the crash, had led 33 flights to San Francisco and had more than 3,000 flights under his belt, Asian said.

According to reports, the plane was flying far too slowly when it hit the seawall and crashed short of the runway at San Francisco International Airport.

Two teenage students from China were killed in the crash while 182 passengers were hurt, reports AFP.