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Pilot of Fatal TransAsia Crash Accidentally Shut Off Wrong Engine

A preliminary report indicates the pilot of GE235 shut down the plane’s second engine after the first failed; a subsequent crash resulted in 43 deaths.

Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council revealed in a preliminary report July 2 that the pilot of TransAsia Airways Flight 235 turned off the ATR 72-600’s second engine after the first failed, just moments before the fatal crash.

On February 4, the GE235 took off from Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA) for Kinmen Airport (KNH) with 53 passengers and five crew members onboard. The turboprop crashed into the Keelung River about three minutes after takeoff, resulting in 43 fatalities.

According to the ASC’s preliminary report, data indicates that 36 seconds after takeoff, GE235 lost power in one engine. About 46 seconds later, the pilot accidentally shut down the plane’s second engine.

“Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,” Captain Liao Jian-zong, 41, can be heard saying on the cockpit recording seconds before the crash. The ASC report notes that Liao had 4,914 flight hours on ATR 72 aircraft, but he failed a May 2014 simulator check. The report also noted that Liao’s instructors described him as “prone to be nervous and may make oral errors during the engine start procedure” in training assessments.

The preliminary report contains only factual data and no analysis related to the crash. The investigation’s analysis portion has begun, with preliminary findings expected in November 2015 and the final report in April 2016.

[Photo: Wikimedia]

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