"For whatever reason, they appeared to go low on approach and then the airplane pitched up suddenly to an extreme attitude, which could have been the pilots trying to keep it out of the ground," he said.

The last time a large U.S. airline lost a plane in a fatal crash was an American Airlines Airbus A300 taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in 2001.

Asia remains one of the fastest-growing regions for aviation in the world. Even with slowing economies in Japan and China, airlines there saw 3.7 percent more passengers than a year ago, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Finding enough experienced pilots to meet a growing number of flights is becoming a problem. A 2012 report by aircraft manufacturer Boeing said the industry would need 460,000 new commercial airline pilots in the next two decades â¿¿ with 185,000 of them needed in Asia alone.

"The Asia-Pacific region continues to present the largest projected growth in pilot demand," the report said.

___

Lowy reported from Washington, D.C. Associated Press writers Jason Dearen and Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco, Scott Mayerowitz in New York and Pauline Arrillaga in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If you liked this article you might like

What's Behind the Surge in Energy Stocks

Hillary Clinton Says Prosecuting Individuals is Key to Wall Street Reform