TransAsia pilots blamed for fatal Taiwan crash

TransAsia Airways Flight 235 crashed soon after takeoff from a Taiwan airport because the pilot failed to identify and respond properly to an engine problem, according to a crash investigation report released Thursday.

The crash Feb. 4, 2015, killed 43 people and injured 14 others. The aircraft’s dramatic fall from the sky was captured on video, which showed the plane swooning across a bridge, where it clipped a taxi before falling into the Keelung Riverbelow. The taxi driver also suffered serious injuries, and a passenger had minor injuries.

Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council reported the pilots didn’t set programming correctly for one of the ATR 72-600’s turboprop engines before takeoff, which led to reduced thrust under a command called “autofeather” during the climb away from Taipei’s Songshan airport.

The crew then didn’t react properly to begin emergency procedures and take corrective action, the 299-page report said. Instead, the pilot shut down the plane’s only other engine, the report said.

“Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,” a pilot said 9 seconds before impact, according to a transcript in the report.

The plane peaked at 1,630 feet, traveling 117 mph, the report said. The co-pilot was able to call the air-traffic control tower 1 minute before impact, as alarms warned of a stall and about the autopilot turning off because of the engine problem, the report said.

The 42-year-old pilot, who joined TransAsia after serving in the air force, was unable to meet performance standards to fly the Airbus A330, but was approved for the ATR 72 and had been flying with the airline since March 2011. During a 2014 evaluation, he was given unsatisfactory ratings for “abnormal engine start” and “engine flame-out,” and was told “cockpit management and flight planning needs improvement,” the report said.

“The crew didn’t respond to the stall warnings in a timely and effective manner,” the report said. “The aircraft stalled and continued descent during the attempted engine restart.”

USA Today

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