Both TransAsia plane engines lost power before Taiwan crash

World Today

Relatives from mainland China react as they watch divers recover bodies at the site of a commercial plane crash in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. Photo: AP

One of the engines on TransAsia Airways Flight 235 went idle 37 seconds after takeoff and the pilots apparently shut off the other before making a futile attempt to restart it, Taiwan’s top aviation safety official said Friday.

The details were presented at a news conference in Taipei by Aviation Safety Council Executive Director Thomas Wang using preliminary findings from the flight data recorder.

CCTV’s Tony Cheng reported this story from Taipei.

Taiwan plane crash dashboard video

Amateur video shot from the dashboard of a car recorded the moment a TransAsia plane clipped an overpass with its port-side wing and crashed into a river in Taipei on Wednesday (February 4).

Wednesday’s crash into a river in Taipei minutes after takeoff killed at least 35 people and left eight missing. Fifteen people were rescued with injuries after the accident, which was captured in a dramatic dashboard camera video from a passing car that showed the ATR 72 prop-jet banking steeply and scraping a highway overpass before it hurtled into the Keelung River.

Preliminary investigations from the black boxes appear to show that the pilots faced enormous odds, both engines had failed before the crash and the first warnings sounded less than a minute after takeoff.

Wang said the plane’s right engine triggered an alarm 37 seconds after takeoff. However, he said the data showed it had not shut down, or “flamed out” as the pilot told the control tower, but rather moved into idle mode, with no change in the oil pressure.

Then, 46 seconds later, the left engine was shut down, apparently by one of the pilots, so that neither engine was producing any power. A restart was attempted, but the plane crashed just 72 seconds later.

Wang said it was too early to draw firm conclusions about the reasons why the first engine ceased producing power.

“It’s only the third day so we can’t say too much,” Wang said. “We haven’t ruled anything out.”

It’s unclear why the second engine was shut down, since the plane was capable of flying with one engine. Several Internet aviation sites, including Flightradar24, questioned whether the pilots may have turned off the wrong engine in an attempt to restart the idled one.

Funeral service are being held for the victims and some families have already arrived at the site. Services praised the pilot efforts as well, whose body was discovered yesterday with his hands still holding the joystick as he attempted to control the plane.

“(The pilot) meticulously grasped the flight operating system and in the final moments he still wanted to control the plane to avoid harming residents in the housing communities. To the plane’s crew, the victims and all the masters (of religious ceremony), I here express my condolences,” said Wu Den-yih a Taiwan official.

The search is still going on for the remains of those unaccounted for, as scuba divers linked arm in arm to scour every inch of the river bed.

Story is compiled with information from The Associated Press.