Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council have given an initial report on the crash of Flight GE235 last Wednesday, 4 February 2015, having examined data from the plane’s Black-Box.
Problems began for TransAsia GE235 just 37 seconds after taking off from Taipei, Taiwan’s Songshan airport:
10:53:28: Plane at 1200ft (366m):
Engine #2 (right-hand) switched, for an unknown reason, to auto-feather (idle; the blades of the propeller are turned so that they do not bite into the air), which itself then causes the engine to stop producing any power (this is a protection mechanism for the engine).
The plane flashed a flame-out signal for that engine, though in fact there was no flame-out (the oil pressure had not changed).
Engine #1 (left-hand) shut down manually (by the 42-year-old pilot, Liao Chien-tsung).
The plane is an ATR 72-600, and is able to fly with just one functioning engine. It is not known why Mr Liao shut the #1 engine down.
Mr Liao then tried to restart the engines, but that did not work. Thus, during the flight’s final moments, neither engine had any thrust.
“Mayday, mayday, engine flameout” radioed by pilot to base.
Liao Chien-tsung & his co-pilot stayed at the controls to the bitter end, and has been paid tribute by the Taiwanese Vice President Wu Den-yih. Mr Liao steered the plane past apartment blocks, commercial buildings and even the elevated motorway until it crashed into the Keelung River.
Both the pilot and co-pilot were found dead in the cockpit with their legs badly broken; Mr Liao’s hands were still on the plane’s controls. 15 passengers were pulled out of the wreckage alive. Without doubt, the 2 pilots had saved many people’s lives, even though they lost their own.
--------- Alex Kemp