TransAsia crash: Probe says pilot shut down working engine

World Today

Taiwan Plane CrashImage taken from video provided by TVBS showsTransAsia Airways flight GE235 clipping an elevated roadway just before it careened into a river in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. There were 58 people aboard. (AP Photo/TVBS)

An investigation by the Taiwan Aviation Safety Councilhas revealed that one of the pilots onboard TransAsia Airways flight GE235, which crashed into a river in Taiwan in February, had mistakenly switched off the jet’s only working engine.

The ASC report, released on Thursday, provides a detailed picture of the events that unfolded in the cockpit on February 4th.

The report describes utter confusion in the cockpit after one engine lost power around three minutes into the flight.

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).

Captain Liao Jian-zong sought to reduce the throttle, but ended up making a fatal error. “Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,” Liao is heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash.

A few moments later, the ATR 72-600, which was carrying 58 people, crashed into a shallow river in Taipei after clipping an overpass and a taxi. Forty-three people, including the three pilots and crew, died in the tragedy.

The report said that Liao, a former air force pilot, had joined TransAsia in 2010. He had a total of 4,914 flight hours on ATR 72 planes.

He had apparently failed the simulator check in May 2014, but passed subsequent checks in late June.

However, the report goes on to list a series of concerns regarding Liao’s cockpit management ability, which had been raised. It cites instructors as remarking that Liao was “prone to be nervous and may make oral errors during the engine start procedure” and displayed a “lack of confidence.”

In fact, an instructor is quoted as saying in November 2014 that Liao “may need extra training” when dealing with an engine failure after take-off.

The final report on the tragedy, analyzing the cause of the crash and offering recommendations, is expected to be completed by April 2016.