TransAsia plane's pilot switched off wrong engine before crash: Officials

Emergency personnel approach a commercial plane after it crashed in Taipei, Taiwan, Feb. 4, 2015. (Photo by AP)
Emergency personnel approach a commercial plane after it crashed in Taipei, Taiwan, Feb. 4, 2015. 

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The captain of a TransAsia Airways plane mistakenly switched off its only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, according to Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council.

The ASC's latest report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong, who was at the controls, had failed simulator training in May 2014, 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," Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash.

There appeared to be confusion in the cockpit as the two captains tried to regain control of the plane after the other engine lost power about three minutes into the doomed flight.

Liao reduced the throttle on the working engine but did not appear to realize his mistake until it was too late.

He tried to restart the engine before a junior first officer, who was also in the cockpit as part of his training, said: "Impact, impact, brace for impact."

Those chilling words were the last heard on the data recordings, according to the latest report of the ASC's investigation into the Feb. 4 crash in clear weather.

Seconds later the ATR 72-600, which had 58 people on board, crashed upside down into a shallow river in downtown Taipei after it lurched between buildings, clipping an overpass and a taxi. Fifteen people survived.

TransAsia had no immediate comment about the latest findings.

A draft of the final report will be issued in November with the final report to be completed in April 2016, the council said. The cause of the crash and recommendations for the future will be included in the final report.


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