Pilot in Feb's Taiwan crash 'shut engine by mistake'
THE pilot flying a TransAsia Airways ATR plane mistakenly switched off the aircraft's only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in its latest report yesterday.
The ASC's report also showed that captain Liao Jian-zong had failed simulator training in May last year, 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," Mr Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash.
Three minutes into the doomed flight, one engine lost power. Mr 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.
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 members died.
Mr 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 last year and joined the ATR 72-600 fleet in November.
But the ASC report showed that Mr Liao failed the simulator check 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.
But he passed after a second simulator check on June 29 and 30, and was promoted to captain. Similar problems were detected during training from July 2 to 10 last year.
Issues cropped up again during training for the ATR 72-600 in November, when an instructor said Mr Liao "may need extra training" when dealing with an engine failure after take-off.