A recording taken from the cockpit of crashed TransAsia flight GE235 has revealed the pilot accidentally switched off the plane’s sole working engine – a blunder that resulted in the deaths of 43 people in Taiwan.
According to a report by the country’s Aviation Safety Council, Captain Liao Jian-zong was heard to say "Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle" but did not realise his mistake until it was too late.
Dramatic footage from a nearby motorway in Taipei showed the plane flipping over, narrowly missing nearby buildings and clipping the motorway and a taxi as it crashed into the Keelung River just minutes after taking off from Taipei Songshan Airport.
There appeared to be some confusion as Liao and his co-pilot desperately tried to restart the other engine after it appeared to lose power three minutes into the flight.
It has also been revealed that Liao, who was killed instantly on impact, had failed simulator training in May the previous year because he did not know how to deal with an engine flame out on take off. Despite this he passed the test a second time in June and was promoted to captain in August 2014.
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.
Fifteen people survived the crash and city officials said the death toll would have been much higher if it had hit the buildings.
One survivor told a local TV station, ETTTV, that the engine did not feel right from take off.
Huang Jin-sun said: “There was some sound next to me. It did not feel right shortly after take-off. The engine did not feel right.”
The council's initial report did not assign blame to any party. A draft of the final report is due to be released in November.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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