Five days after the spectacular crash of Transasia Airways flight GE235 in Taipei, the inquest advances. This amateur video that went viral on the Net, clearly shows the ATR, just seconds after taking off from Songshan Airport, clipping a highway bridge before crashing into the river below.
According to investigators, the ATR 72-600, that had just begun its flight between the capital of Taiwan and Kinmen, a small coastal island located 300 kilometres (190 miles), west of Taipei, experienced engine failure. The aircraft was at less than 400 metres (1,300 ft.) altitude, when an alarm triggered, indicating the failure (flameout) of the right engine. The pilot would have immediately switched off the left engine.
Thomas Wang, Director of Aviation Safety Council in charge of the investigation (ASC)
"According to the data at our disposal, we can state that for a while both engines stopped producing thrust. (...) We have not, as yet, determined why the [left] engine had been turned off manually."
The aircraft was almost new, less than a year old, and just a few days before the accident, had undergone maintenance operations. We also know that during its delivery flight, one of the ATR engines had already lost power, and had to be replaced by the engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.
Of the 58 people who were onboard flight GE235, there are at present 15 survivors and 35 victims, a toll that could have been heavier. The pilot (Liao Chien-Tsung), who died in the accident, would have done everything to avoid crashing into populated areas. He was found in the cockpit, still with his hands on the controls and two fractured legs. He had 14,000 hours of flying time.
The black boxes of the aircraft were recovered for analysis. ATR, being a Franco-Italian manufacturer, the French authority responsible for safety investigations into accidents or incidents in civil aviation (BEA) have sent two investigators, accompanied by four of the regional aircraft manufacturer’s technical advisors to the site.