Saturday 3 December 2016

Plane crashed into river killing 43 people after pilot pulled the 'wrong throttle'

* 'Wow, pulled back wrong throttle' - pilot
* Forty-three people killed when plane crashed into river
* Pilot failed May 2014 simulator training

Faith Hung and Siva Govindasamy

Published 02/07/2015 | 10:00

The mangled fuselage of the TransAsia Airways commercial plane is dragged to the river bank after it crashed in Taipei (AP)

The pilot flying a TransAsia Airways ATR mistakenly switched off the plane's only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in its latest report on Thursday.

  • Go To

The ASC's report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong had failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flame-out on take-off.

"Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle," Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash.

Read more here: A dark 12 months for the aviation industry with seven high profile disasters  

Rescuers pull passengers from the aircraft
Rescuers pull passengers from the aircraft
Rescuers and soldiers remove airplane parts after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City. Reuters/Pichi Chuang
Rescuers carry out a rescue operation after a TransAsia Airways plane crash landed in a river, in New Taipei City. Reuters/Stringer
Rescuers and soldiers remove air plane parts after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City. Reuters/Pichi Chuang

There appeared to be confusion in the cockpit as the two captains tried to regain control of the plane after one engine lost power about three minutes into the doomed flight.

Liao reduced the throttle on the working engine but did not appear to realise his mistake until it was too late.

He tried to restart the engines several times before a junior first officer in the cockpit said: "Impact, impact, brace for impact."

Those were the chilling last words heard on the data recordings, according to the latest report of the ASC's investigation into the Feb. 4 crash.

Rescuers carry out rescue operations after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. One person was killed but another 10 showed
Rescuers carry out rescue operations after a TransAsia plane crashed into a river in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. One person was killed but another 10 showed "no sign of life" after the TransAsia plane carrying 58 passengers and crew crashed into a river in downtown Taipei shortly after take-off, Taiwan's fire department said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
Relatives of passengers onboard the Transasia Airways plane that crashed gesture in front of photographs of the deceased at a funeral parlor on Taiwan's offshore island of Penghu. Reuters
Emergency workers remove the wreckage of crashed TransAsia Airways flight GE222 on the outlying island of Penghu, Taiwan. AP
A forensic team recovers human remains among the wreckage of crashed TransAsia Airways flight GE222 on the outlying island of Penghu, Taiwan. AP

 

Seconds later the almost new ATR 72-600, which had 58 people on board, crashed upside down into a shallow river in Taipei after it lurched between buildings, clipping an overpass and a taxi.

Fifteen people survived but all three pilots and 40 passengers and other crew died in the second crash involving a TransAsia ATR plane in a year.

A source with direct knowledge of the report told Reuters on Wednesday the working engine had been shut off.

A relative of a passenger on board the crashed TransAsia Airways plane cries in Kaohsiung International Airport, southern Taiwan, July 23, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
A relative of a passenger on board the crashed TransAsia Airways plane cries in Kaohsiung International Airport, southern Taiwan, July 23, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
A car is seen covered in rubble from the wreckage of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 on Taiwan's offshore island of Penghu, July 23, 2014
Rescue personnel survey the wreckage of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 on Taiwan's offshore island of Penghu, July 23, 2014

FAILED SIMULATOR TRAINING

The ASC report, which neither assigns responsibility nor suggests recommendations, paints a more detailed picture than a preliminary report released days after the crash.

Read more here: Pilot made mayday call before plane crash  

Liao, a former air force pilot, began flying commercial aircraft in 2009 and joined TransAsia the following year. He was promoted to captain in August 2014 and joined the ATR 72-600 fleet in November.

He had a total of 4,914 flight hours on ATR 72 planes.

However, the report showed that Liao failed the simulator check in May 2014 when he was being evaluated for promotion. Assessors found he had a tendency not to complete procedures and checks, and his "cockpit management and flight planning" were also found wanting.

However, he passed after a second simulator check on June 29 and 30 and was promoted to captain, although similar problems were detected during training from July 2-10 last year.

Instructors commented that he was "prone to be nervous and may make oral errors during the engine start procedure" and displayed a "lack of confidence", the report shows.

 

Issues cropped up again during training for the ATR 72-600 in November, when an instructor said Liao "may need extra training" when dealing with an engine failure after take-off.

After the crash, Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration put TransAsia's ATR pilots through oral proficiency tests on how to handle an aircraft during engine failure.

All but one of the pilots passed the tests, although some needed more than one attempt. The lone failure was demoted in rank to vice captain from captain.

The airline now has 61 ATR pilots.

Read more here: Shocking moment plane hits bridge in Tapei killing at least 25 people  

TransAsia president Fred Wu told a media conference later on Thursday the airline would buy an ATR flight simulator, bring in outside experts to evaluate pilots, and launch a safety improvement programme with Airbus.

ATR is a joint venture between Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Italian aerospace firm Finmeccanica.

The airline has reached a settlement with the families of seven passengers, and negotiations were underway with the rest, said TransAsia CEO Peter Chen.

A draft of the final report will be issued in November with the final report, which will include the cause of the crash and recommendations, to be completed in April 2016.

Reuters

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News