In Brief

Taiwan crash pilot: 'wow, pulled back wrong throttle'

Investigation reveals pilot mistakenly switched off the TransAsia plane's engine seconds before it crashed

The pilot of the TransAsia plane that crashed in Taiwan earlier this year killing 43 people accidentally switched off the aircraft's only working engine.

An investigation by Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council has revealed that Captain Liao Jian-zong shouted "wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle" seconds before the disaster.

It also revealed that Liao had failed simulator training the previous year because he didn't know how to deal with an engine flame-out.

His instructors reported that he had a tendency not to complete procedures and checks properly and that he was "prone to be nervous and may make errors" and displayed a "lack of confidence", according to Reuters.

The domestic flight from Taipei to the island of Kinmen crashed into a river with 58 passengers and crew on board. It was the airline's second deadly crash in less than two years.

Shortly after take-off, the pilot reported engine trouble to air traffic controllers. "Mayday, mayday. Engine flame-out," he said.

Liao then mistakenly reduced the throttle speed on the only working engine, but did not appear to realise until it was too late. The last words on the voice recording came from a junior first officer: "Impact, impact, brace for impact."

Shocking footage showed the plane swerving between buildings, hitting a vehicle on a bridge and plunging into the Keelung River. Rescuers pulled out 15 survivors from the wreckage including a mother, a father and their two-year old son.

The aviation council does not assign blame for the crash. TransAsia has already been punished by the authorities with a year-long ban on applying for new routes. However, there are still calls for the company to suspend operations all together.

Responding to the latest report, TransAsia bosses have promised to purchase a new flight simulator, bring in outside experts to evaluate their pilots and launch a safety improvement program with Airbus.

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