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January 22, 2018

Both TransAsia plane engines lost power before Taiwan crash

Search and rescue divers continue to search for missing persons at the site of a commercial plane crash in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. TransAsia Airways Flight 235 with 58 people aboard clipped a bridge shortly after takeoff and crashed into a river in the island’s capital of Taipei on Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

TAIPEI, Taiwan — One of the two engines on TransAsia Airways Flight 235 went idle 37 seconds after takeoff, and the pilots apparently shut off the other before making a futile attempt to restart it, Taiwan’s top aviation safety official said.

It was unclear why the second engine was shut down, since the plane was capable of flying with one engine. Taiwan’s official China News Agency said investigators were looking into the possibility of “professional error.”

Wednesday’s crash into a river in Taipei minutes after takeoff killed at least 36 people and left seven missing. Fifteen people were rescued with injuries after the accident, which was captured in a dramatic dashboard camera video that showed the ATR 72 propjet banking steeply and scraping a highway overpass before it hurtled into the Keelung River.

There would be no reason to have shut down the good engine, experts said.

“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.”

Multi-engine planes, whether jets or turboprops like the ATR, are designed to fly on one engine. When an engine quits, one technique that pilots often use, Cox said, is to identify and tell each other which engine is still running, then for one of them to place a hand behind the throttle controlling that good engine — guarding against an accidental shutdown.

Cox said it is too early to draw certain conclusions but it’s likely that the crew’s failure to control the plane and shutting down the operating engine “will be part of the causal factors to this accident.”

The details on the engines were presented at a news conference in Taipei by Aviation Safety Council Executive Director Thomas Wang as preliminary findings from the flight data recorder.

Wang said Friday the plane’s right engine triggered an alarm 37 seconds after takeoff. However, he said the data showed it had not shut down, or “flamed out” as the pilot told the control tower, but rather moved into idle mode, with no change in the oil pressure.

Then, 46 seconds later, the left engine was shut down, apparently by one of the pilots, so that neither engine was producing any power. A restart was attempted, but the plane crashed just 72 seconds later.

Several Internet aviation sites, including Flightradar24, questioned whether the pilots may have mistakenly turned off the wrong engine in an attempt to restart the idled one.

Anthony Brickhouse, a safety-science professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said investigators won’t really know what happened to the engines until they do a “tear-down” and actually examine them — not just rely entirely on information from the flight-data recorder — to determine whether one or both were still producing power.

TransAsia said in a statement that all 71 of its ATR pilots would retake proficiency examinations as requested by the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

The pilot had 4,900 hours of flying experience, said Lin Chih-ming of the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

Taiwanese Vice President Wu Den-yih, mindful of the island’s reputation as a tourist destination and its tense relations with China where most of the flight’s passengers were from, went to a Taipei funeral parlor for prayer sessions to pay respects.

At the parlor, where bodies are being stored, Wu expressed condolences and praised pilot Liao Chien-chung, who died in the crash. The pilots may have deliberately steered the plane away from buildings and into the river in the final moments.

“When it came to when it was clear his life would end, (the pilot) meticulously grasped the flight operating system and in the final moments he still wanted to control the plane to avoid harming residents in the housing communities,” Wu said.

“To the plane’s crew, the victims … I here express condolences.”

Divers with a local fire agency found one female and three male bodies Friday along the muddy Keelung River bottom about 50 meters (yards) from the crash site, a Taipei City Fire Department official surnamed Chen said.

The agency suspects the eight bodies that are still missing may be in equally murky areas and has sent 190 divers to look for them. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense dispatched three S-70C rescue helicopters to search along a river system that runs into the ocean off Taiwan’s northwest coast.

More than 30 relatives of victims cried wildly, prayed or were comforted by Buddhist volunteers at the riverside crash site as divers in black wetsuits brought back the four bodies. Some divers came ashore with their hands joined in prayer for the people they brought back.

The pilot’s and co-pilot’s bodies were found earlier with their hands still on the controls, Taiwan’s ETToday online news service said.

Wang said the engines had shown no problems before the flight and repeatedly stated that the plane would have been able to take off and fly even with only one engine working.

Evidence that the TransAsia pilots may have shut down the wrong engine drew comparisons with the 1989 crash of a British Midland Airways Boeing 737 jet shortly after takeoff from London’s Heathrow Airport.

In that accident, a fan blade failure in the left engine led to vibrations and smoke and fumes in the cockpit. The pilots believed that the right engine had failed and reduced power to it, which caused the vibrations to stop, convincing the crew that they had identified the troubled engine. As the pilots tried to make an emergency landing, the left engine quit, and attempts to restart the right engine failed. The plane crashed a half-mile short of the runway, killing 47 people; 79 survived.

Originally posted here: 

Both TransAsia plane engines lost power before Taiwan crash

Top Asian News at 4:30 p.m. GMT

SINUI ISLAND, South Korea (AP) — He ran the first chance he got. The sun beat down on the shallow, sea-fed fields where Kim Seong-baek was forced to work without pay, day after 18-hour day mining the big salt crystals that blossomed in the mud around him. Half-blind and in rags, Kim grabbed another slave, and the two disabled men headed for the coast.

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia (AP) — After nearly a week of searching for the victims of AirAsia Flight 8501, rescue teams battling monsoon rains had their most successful day yet on Friday, more than tripling the number of bodies pulled from the Java Sea, some still strapped to their seats. Of the 30 corpses recovered so far, 21 were found on Friday, many of them by a U.S. Navy ship, according to officials.

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SHANGHAI (AP) — Like hundreds of thousands of other revelers, 24-year-old Pan Haiqin decided to ring in the new year on Shanghai’s famed riverfront as the skyscrapers flashed and sparkled. But as the crowd grew and then turned into an out-of-control crush of bodies, the real estate professional never made it up steps to a viewing platform to see the dazzling lights. Nearly 20 hours later, her parents and friends identified her trampled body in a city morgue, one of 36 people killed in one of the deadliest accidents in this showcase Chinese city. Some 49 others were injured.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Brothers of an Australian Al-Jazeera English journalist held in Egypt for more than a year said Friday that their lawyers were focusing on deportation at President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s command as their best option. An Egyptian appeals court on Thursday ordered the retrial of three Al-Jazeera English journalists including Peter Greste held on terror-related charges, a ruling that their lawyers hoped was a step toward resolving a case that brought a storm of international criticism on Egypt’s government.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — Two Afghan soldiers have been arrested in connection with the deaths of at least 28 people, mostly women and children, who were killed by artillery fired from military checkpoints at a wedding party, an official said Friday. Gen. Sultan Mahmoud, the head of the army in southern Helmand province, where the incident took place on Wednesday night, said the soldiers were arrested late on Friday. Another eight soldiers were still under investigation, he told The Associated Press.

BEIJING (AP) — A senior Chinese diplomat has been removed from his position and is being investigated for an unspecified disciplinary violation. A two-sentence statement from the Foreign Ministry did not offer more details Friday about the removal of Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng. The China News Service reported that Zhang was the head of the ministry’s protocol department.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Prince Norodom Ranariddh, a former prime minister of Cambodia who was ousted in a coup and later expelled from the political party he helped found, is seeking a comeback. Ranariddh said in a letter to current leaders of the royalist Funcinpec party that he was accepting their invitation to reassume its presidency. It had removed him in 2006 for alleged incompetence.

In this photo by Heng Sinith, a Cambodian farmer climbs a sugar palm tree to collect palm juice. The farmer, 42-year-old Sam Leng, earns $5 a day by selling juice, a popular refreshment in Southeast and South Asia. It is extracted by cutting the stalk bearing the flowers and hanging a bamboo container to collect the juice, usually overnight. The sweet, fresh juice, normally harvested between November and March, is sold in containers carried by vendors over the shoulder or on bicycles.

BEIJING (AP) — Images of bodies and wreckage floating in Indonesian waters gave relatives of those lost aboard AirAsia Flight 8501 anguish and grief, but they also provided the answers that other families have sought in vain for nearly 10 months. Those with loved ones aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 can only imagine what has happened to them, and can only hope to one day know for sure.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year’s speech Thursday that he is open to more talks or even a summit with his South Korean counterpart, a statement welcomed by Seoul, which in turn urged the North to take concrete steps toward normalization of relations. Kim’s call for improving inter-Korea relations comes as Pyongyang is facing heightened criticism over its human rights record and souring ties with Washington over allegations it was involved in the massive hacking attack on Sony Pictures linked to “The Interview,” a dark comedy that portrayed an assassination attempt on Kim.

Revelers crowded New York’s Times Square and converged on the beaches of Brazil and skyscrapers of Dubai to say good riddance to a turbulent 2014 marred by terror woes, Ebola outbreaks and a horrific series of airline disasters. But tragedy struck in Shanghai, Baghdad was on edge and protesters in the United States delivered a sobering reminder of one of the year’s biggest stories.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A huge blaze believed to have been ignited by firecrackers razed nearly a thousand shanties and killed three people in a creekside slum in the Philippine capital, one of more than a dozen fires across the country linked to raucous New Year’s celebrations. Strong winds fanned the flames racing through nearly a kilometer (half a mile) -long row of shanties in a village in suburban Quezon city in metropolitan Manila before dawn Thursday, said village officer Noel Carino. Firefighters struggled to get near the burning shanties because of narrow alleys.

An AirAsia jet with 162 people on board crashed Sunday morning while flying from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore on a scheduled two-hour flight. Here’s a look at the latest developments: ___

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Top Asian News at 4:30 p.m. GMT