Flights cancelled to train pilots after crash
TAIWAN'S TransAsia Airways yesterday announced more flight cancellations this week, as pilots were recalled for retraining, following its second plane crash in seven months. The airline had said on Saturday that 90 flights - all domestic - would be cancelled by today.
"We're scheduled to cancel another 32 flights tomorrow, as pilots are recalled for the retraining programme," a spokesman said. She said that more of the airline's domestic flights could be hit if the tests for all its 71 ATR pilots, which began Saturday, could not be completed in four days as scheduled.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration on Friday ordered the retraining, after it emerged that pilots may have inexplicably shut off one of the two turboprop engines before Flight GE235 went down on Wednesday.
Pilots who fail the tests will be grounded immediately and indefinitely pending further training. The TransAsia ATR 72-600 plane, en route from the capital to the offshore island of Kinmen, crashed in Taipei with 53 passengers and five crew members on board shortly after take-off. Forty people were confirmed killed, fifteen survived and three are still missing.
Dramatic amateur footage from a dashboard camera showed it hitting a road as it banked steeply away from buildings and into the Keelung River, leaving a trail of debris including a smashed taxi.
Yesterday, more than 160 divers searched the chilly waters for the missing passengers. The airline said it has scheduled four memorial services for the victims.
Aviation authorities have said TransAsia Airways failed to meet around a third of the regulatory requirements imposed after another fatal crash in Penghu Island in July that killed 48 people.
Investigators are still trying to establish what caused last week's crash, but initial reports from the black boxes found that the right engine had "flamed out" about two minutes after take-off.
Warning signals blared in the cockpit, and the left engine was then shut down manually by the crew for unknown reasons, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council said on Friday. Analysts have said that the pilots may have caused the crash by turning off the wrong engine.