Audio released of TransAsia pilot's last words: ‘Mayday, mayday, engine flameout’

Audio reveals the last moments of flight GE235 - and will be vital for the crash investigation

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The Independent Online

An audio recording of the last words of the pilot of TransAsia flight GE235, which crashed in Taipei on Wednesday, has been released as the rescue and investigation operations continue.

In the recording, the pilot, 42-year-old Liao Chien-tsung who died in the tragedy, can be heard saying, "Mayday, mayday, engine flameout".

The Control Tower responds: "TransAsia 235, please try again. Contact Taipei Approach on 119.7. TransAsia 235 Control Tower."

The ATR 72 prop-jet aircraft, carrying 58 people, was filmed flying on its side, with one wing scraping past Taiwan's National Freeway No. 1 just seconds before it plunged into the Keelung River, yards from the shore, local television images showed. At least 31 people died, with 15 known survivors and 12 more unaccounted for.

A flameout is usually caused by an interruption of the fuel supply to the engine or when there is faulty combustion, resulting in an engine failure. Twin-engined aircraft, however, are usually able to keep flying even when one engine has failed.

The mayor of Taipei, Ko Wen-je, called the pilot a hero because video of the crash showed Chien-tsung ensuring the plane avoided buildings and landed in a river, greatly reducing the number of casualties.

"He really tried everything he could," the mayor said.

"The pilot's immediate reaction saved many people," Chris Lin, the brother of one of the survivors, told reporters. "I was a pilot myself and I'm quite knowledgeable about the immediate reaction needed in this kind of situation."

Today, rescue officials will continue searching for the 12 people still missing more than 24 hours after the crash. There are 15 known survivors.

The crash was the latest in a string of aviation disasters in Asia in the past 12 months and TransAsia's second in the past seven months.