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Taiwan Pilot Cut Wrong Engine Seconds Before Crash

  • VOA News

FILE - The wreckage of a TransAsia Airways turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft is recovered from a river, in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015.

FILE - The wreckage of a TransAsia Airways turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft is recovered from a river, in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015.

The pilot of a TransAsia Airways plane that crashed in Taiwan in February shut off his plane's only working engine, just seconds before the plane went down, according to a preliminary investigation.

The ATR-72 suffered a malfunction in one of its two engines shortly after taking off from Taipei's Songshan airport, clipped an elevated highway and crashed into the Keelung River, killing 43 people, including the pilot and co-pilot. Fifteen people were rescued.

Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council said Thursday the engine failed because of a glitch in a sensor connector in the plane's automated flight system. But instead of cutting back the failed engine, as is typically the case in such situations, the pilot instead throttled back the only working one.

"Wow, pulled back on the wrong throttle," said the pilot in Chinese, eight seconds before the crash, according to black box data.

Safety officials revealed Thursday the pilot, whose name was not given, had failed a flight simulator test for engine failure just months before the crash. They also said colleagues described him as nervous and unsure of himself.

The report did not assign blame or draw any final conclusions about the crash, and officials stressed they are still trying to figure out why the pilot cut the second engine. The report's final findings are expected to be released next year.

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