The pilot of the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed into a Taipei river had made a fatal mistake moments before by switching off the working engine after the other lost power.
A newly released report from Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said that the pilot could be heard in the cockpit recording saying: “Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle.”
A total of 43 people were killed when flight GE235 crashed into the Keelung River shortly after taking off from Taipei’s Songshan Airport on February 4.
Flight data showed that the plane had stalled after the working engine was switched off. The ATR 72-600 aircraft is able to fly with one engine.
The ASC’s report also showed that the captain, 41-year-old Liao Jian-zong, had failed simulator training back in May 2014, according to the Associated Press.
He had a total of 4,914 flight hours at the time of the crash, including 3,151 in the ATR 72-500 and 250 hours in the ATR 72-600.
However, the report showed that Liao failed the simulator check in May 2014 when he was being evaluated for promotion. Assessors found he had a tendency not to complete procedures and checks, and his “cockpit management and flight planning” were also found wanting.
However, he passed after a second simulator check on June 29 and 30 and was promoted to captain, although similar problems were detected during training from July 2 to 10 last year.
Instructors commented at the time that he was “prone to be nervous and may make oral errors during the engine start procedure”, displayed a “lack of confidence” and was “nervous”, the report shows.
Liao had previously been hailed a hero for managing to steer the doomed aircraft through buildings and ditching it in the water, likely preventing even further disaster.
ASC has not assigned blame for the crash.