Friday, February 6, 2015

TransAsia flight data show both engines failed

BEIJING— The TransAsia Airways flight that killed at least 35 people when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Taiwan's capital this week went down because both engines lost power, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council said Friday.

An investigation into what caused the engines on the ATR 72 propjet to lose power is continuing and it could be months or even a year before final conclusions are reached, Taiwan's top aviation safety official Thomas Wang said at a news conference Friday.

"It's only the third day so we can't say too much," Wang said. "We haven't ruled anything out."

The China News Agency quoted a spokeswoman for the local prosecutors' office as saying the case is being investigated to determine if there was "professional error."

TransAsia said in a statement that all of its ATR pilots would retake a proficiency examination as requested by Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration. The pilot on Flight 235 had 4,900 hours of flying experience.

A TransAsia Airways flight crashed into a Taipei river shortly after takeoff Wednesday with 58 passengers on board. Dashcam footage from cars on a bridge beside the river captured the plane going down. Dozens were either killed or missing. VPC

Taiwanese authorities believe the pilots of the plane deliberately steered the propjet aircraft away from buildings in downtown Taipei in the final moments before the crash as part of an effort to minimize casualties.

One of the pilots of the plane called out "mayday, mayday, engine flameout" moments before it banked sharply and crashed into a river, audio clips revealed. An "engine flameout" refers to when an engine loses power and shuts down.

The China Times newspaper reported that pilot Liao Chien Tsung, 41, who died in the crash, was found still clasping the joystick in his hands. His legs were broken.

"When it came to when it was clear his life would end, (the pilot) meticulously grasped the flight operating system and in the final moments he still wanted to control the plane to avoid harming residents in the housing communities," Taiwanese Vice President Wu Den Yih said Friday, speaking at a funeral parlor for victims. "To the plane's crew, the victims … (I) express condolences."

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