Saturday, February 07, 2015

TransAsia Grounds Some Planes, Tests ATR Pilots After Taiwan Crash • Death Toll From Wednesday’s Crash Rises to 39

The Wall Street Journal


Feb. 7, 2015 6:17 a.m. ET

TAIPEI— TransAsia Airways Corp. will ground most of its ATR planes from Saturday to Monday, as pilots of the turboprops undergo qualification tests required by local authorities days after a deadly crash here which killed at least 39 people.

The decision, which led to the cancellation of 90 domestic flights, follows the release of flight data indicating that fuel to the left engine of Flight 235 was manually cut off after the right engine of the twin turboprop plane appeared to have malfunctioned almost immediately following takeoff.

Both engines stopped producing thrust just before the ATR72-600 crashed into the Taipei’s Keelung River on Wednesday four minutes after takeoff, according to flight data reviewed by Taiwan officials investigating the deadly crash.

The data raise the possibility that the pilot may have mistakenly cut fuel to the only engine keeping the plane in flight. Taiwan aviation safety authorities have declined to provide any interpretation or speculate on the cause of the crash.

Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council presented its preliminary findings after analyzing the data retrieved from the plane’s two cockpit voice recorders and flight-data recorder, commonly known as the ‘black boxes.’ A final report on the cause of the crash will be released in about 12 months.

Wednesday’s crash was TransAsia’s second fatal air accident in seven months. On Friday, Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said the carrier would be banned from adding new international routes for a year. TransAsia had already been excluded from new international routes after the crash in July that killed 49 people. The second plane crash extends the ban to Feb. 4, 2016, the CAA said.

Air-safety concerns in Asia have been growing as the region’s traffic continues to boom, and following a number of tragedies last year, including the Dec. 28 crash of AirAsia Flight 8501, which went down in the Java Sea on its way from Indonesia to Singapore, and the mystery disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March.

During the week, international air-safety officials said they would press some Asian nations to beef up regulation of their airlines. A report released this week at a summit held by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency that sets nonbinding safety standards for carriers and regulators, found about one-third of commercial-plane crashes in Asia between 2008 and 2012, to some extent, “involved deficiencies in regulatory oversight.”

—Andy Pasztor contributed to this article.

Story and photo:

One of the recovered engines from TransAsia Airways Flight 235 is inspected at the crash site on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. 

TransAsia Airways
Transasia Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72-212A, B-22816, Flight GE-235

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