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TransAsia Flight GE235 Captain Shut Down Wrong Engine on ATR 72-600 Turboprop


TransAsia Flight GE235

In February 2015, TransAsia Flight GE235 plunged into the Keelung River after clipping a bridge and a taxi. Details surrounding the incident are just now being released. According to the Aviation Safety Council, a transcript of the cockpit recording features one of the two pilots declaring “Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle.” Seconds later, the ATR 72 turboprop plane crashed into the shallow river in Taiwan’s capital of Taipei.

Flight 235 departed from Taipei with 58 people on board including the crew. The flight was scheduled to fly to Kinmen, a Taiwanese island near mainland China. Most of the passengers on the flight were mainland Chinese tourists. Shortly after take-off, a cockpit warning signaled that Engine Number Two had flamed out shortly after take-off from Songshan Airport, at an altitude of 1,200 feet. The ATR 72 turboprop is designed to fly using just one engine so the pilot responded by pulling back the throttle on what he thought was engine number two. Roughly one minute later, he realized his mistake. The pilot had actually shut down the working engine, Engine One. The pilot tried to return power to Engine One but was unsuccessful. The plane fell from 1,200 feet to 55 feet in less than sixty seconds. A final report of the incident will available by April 2016.

According to records provided by TransAsia, the captain previously served in the Taiwan Air Force as a pilot and joined TransAsia in August of 2010. In August 2014, he completed upgrade training and was promoted to ATR 72-600 fleet captain. The record shows that during his upgrade training, he failed a simulator check, performing unsatisfactorily on the abnormal engine start section, among others. Instructors noted that he demonstrated insufficient knowledge of dealing with engine flameout at takeoff. After another session and passing the simulator check, he was qualified as captain.

TransAsia has been “making a concerted effort” to enhance aviation safety. Since the February crash, the carrier has recruited safety professionals, including Jon Beatty, CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, to provide advice. In addition all ATR craft captains had to pass appropriateness exams. Other improvements including forming an aviation safety committee and purchasing an ATR simulator have been considered.

43 people passed away in the accident including the 3 pilots and 40 passengers. The incident is the second TransAsia crash in less than a year. In July 2014, 48 people were killed when an ATR72-500 crashed when approaching to land in bad weather on Penghu Island, Taiwan.

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