TransAsia Airways ordered its ATR pilots to undergo written and oral exams in the next few days to continue flying, CNN reported Friday. The airline also plans to have the 71 pilots take simulator tests, according to the report. The moves come as investigators probe the cause of this week's ATR-72 crash with 58 people on board. Thirty-five have been confirmed dead so far. Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council is examining the flight data recorders and told reporters Friday the crew appeared to have had problems with both engines just before the turboprop, seen on video footage, struck a bridge in a steep bank and crashed into the Keelung River.
The safety council said the stall warning system went off in the cockpit five times starting about 37 seconds after takeoff and the crew could have shut down the left engine in response to a problem with the right engine, CNN reported. Stephen Fredrick, a pilot who had flown ATRs for American Airlines, told CNN the TransAsia ATR appeared to be gliding with at least one engine out, wings level and a slight nose-down attitude before the crash. The Taipei-based TransAsia line suffered an earlier crash in July, when another ATR-72 crashed in Penghu, killing 48 people. That crash is still under investigation.
The captain of the TransAsia Airways turboprop that crashed in Taipei in February had shut down the working engine when the other failed after departure, Reuters reported Thursday. The pilot, Liao Jian-zong, then caught the error, but it was too late, Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council said in Reuters' report. The cockpit voice recorder indicated Liao said, “wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle," but in the ensuing confusion the ATR crashed into a river, killing 43 of the 58 people on board. The council determined that Liao attempted several engine restarts before a junior pilot called, ”impact, impact, brace for impact." Liao and the other two pilots aboard were among those killed, Reuters reported.
The council also said Liao failed a simulator check in May 2014 when pursuing his promotion to captain, then passed a second test in June, making captain two months later. An ATR 72-600 instructor noted in November that Liao "may need extra training" for engine failures after takeoff, according to Reuters. He was previously an air force pilot who started flying commercially in 2009 and was hired at TransAsia in 2010, the report said. Since the Feb. 4 crash, TransAsia retested its ATR pilots and on Thursday, the airline’s president said the carrier will improve its training and safety operations.
Pilots of an ill-fated TransAsia Airways ATR 72-600 should have aborted its departure from Taipei Songshan airport after noting that a power-control system had not armed, investigators have indicated.
Flight GE235 crashed into the Keelung river shortly after take-off when the crew inadvertently reduced power from its healthy left-hand engine, instead of the right-hand engine which was exhibiting problems.
Taiwanese investigators have disclosed that the aircraft’s automatic take-off power control system (ATPCS) had not initially been armed when the turboprop began its departure roll.
The system provides automatic support – including uptrim and auto-feathering – in the event of an engine failure during take-off.
Investigators probing the fatal 4 February crash, citing flight-recorder data, state that the monitoring pilot, in the right-hand cockpit seat, declared the ATPCS was not armed about 4s into the take-off roll.
In an interview with the inquiry team a TransAsia crew training supervisor said that ATR 72-600 pilots should abort take-off if the ATPCS is not armed during the roll, and that this point was “emphasised” during pilot training.
This requirement to abort is based on there being several procedures to be carried out if the ATPCS is not armed, which are unsuitable to perform during the take-off run.
But the inquiry points out that this policy of aborting is “not clearly described” in any manuals and notices to flight crew. The situation is further complicated by a policy allowing pilots of ATR 72-500s, faced with the same issue, to continue the take-off under certain conditions.
TransAsia flight GE235’s commanding pilot acknowledged the unarmed ATPCS call-out but opted to proceed with the take-off roll.
Just after the standard 70kt speed call, the monitoring pilot exclaimed that the ATPCS had become armed, before the ATR became airborne a few seconds later.
Some 34s into the climb the ATPCS appears to have commanded an uptrim to the left-hand engine, to increase its power, and started auto-feathering the right-hand engine – these actions are the ATPCS system’s normal response to a developing problem in the right-hand powerplant.
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