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Pilots undergo tests following crash

Published:Saturday | February 7, 2015 | 11:24 PM
A passenger waits at the ticket counter of TransAsia Airways at the Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, yesterday.


TAIPEI, (AP) -- The dozens of pilots who operate TransAsia Airways' ATR propeller-jets began proficiency tests yesterday, three days after one of the carrier's ATRs crashed into a river, killing at least 40 people.

The airline said it had cancelled 90 flights over the next three days to accommodate the requirement by Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration that all 71 of its ATR pilots be retested.

Preliminary investigations indicate the pilots of last Wednesday's doomed flight shut off a running engine of the ATR 72 after its other engine went idle, a move that aviation experts said was an error.

"It's a mistake," said John M. Cox, a former US Airways pilot and now head of a safety-consulting company. "There are procedures that pilots go through -- safeguards -- when you're going to shut down an engine, particularly close to the ground. Why that didn't occur here, I don't know."

The crash into the muddy Keelung River in Taipei minutes after takeoff killed at least 40 of the 58 people who were aboard the plane, with rescuers recovering five more bodies yesterday.

Fifteen people were rescued with injuries after the accident, which was captured in a dramatic dashboard camera video that showed the aircraft banking steeply and scraping a highway overpass before it hurtled into the water.

With warmer temperatures, divers yesterday were able to retrieve more bodies, which were found hundreds of meters downriver from the crash site.

One body turned up near the shore, and others were submerged in mud.