Taiwan pilots for TransAsia Airlines are grounded for failing safety qualifications. Ten pilots failed the oral portion of the test while 19 others either failed to show up or were too sick to attend retraining sessions. The Civil Aviation Administration says that those pilots will be suspended if they do not come in for retraining.
Thirty nine pilots who passed the safety qualification test will still have to undergo a simulation test before being allowed to fly again. Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration recommended that all of the airline’s pilots go through safety training. Each of the Taiwan pilots already had close to 7,000 hours of flying experience, a significant amount for commercial pilots.
All of this retraining is the result of last week’s airplane crash. TransAsia’s ATR-72 crashed into the Keelung River after pilot Liao Chien-Tsung lost control of the plane. Preliminary results from the black box and crash scene investigators deduce that the pilot and his crew turned off the wrong engine when they thought they were having engine trouble. The last words heard on the black box were “(m)ayday, mayday. Engine flameout.” Crash investigators have hypothesized that there was no flame-out. The crew shut down the wrong engine after the right engines went into idle mode. The crew attempted to restart the engine, but failed. Some reports about the incident blame the pilot because they say he cut off the wrong engine. It seems as if he may have realized his mistake. When found, the Taiwan pilot was tightly clutching the joystick and his legs were badly broken. Lien-Tsung was the son of street vendors who trained in the air force. He first flew for Air China, and then switched to TransAsia Air. He had logged close to 5,000 hours of airtime.
One lone body remains of the victims killed in last week’s plane crash. Haunting news video shows rescuers joining hands and searching the muddy waters of the Keelung River. 450 rescue workers are involved in the search for the one remaining victim. The other two victims located on Wednesday were not entombed under the mud as rescuers suspected. They were found more than one-quarter of a mile down the river still strapped into their seats. In the face of that dauntless search, Taiwan pilots must be grounded until retrained so that such a tragedy never happens again.
This plane crash is unique in that two separate video recordings captured the harrowing event. A taxi dashcam shows the airplane entering from the left, left propeller stalled, narrowly missing apartment and commercial buildings, and then heading top-down into the Keelung River. A more recently video shows the view from the top of one of those office buildings. It shows the plane narrowly missing the building, and then descending into the river.
Although the Taiwan pilots grounded are not to blame for what happened to the plane, the Civil Air Association must do what it can to protect the people. In the meantime, life goes on for the living as they remember their recently departed loved ones. Some of the relatives of the dead participated in mourning rituals along the river. Tibetan monks tolled a brass bell, bowing toward the river while holding a strip of bamboo with sacred inscriptions on it. They used it to guide the spirits of the dead to rest.
By Danielle Branch
Photo by Angelo Moneta – License
Photo by Clemont Alloing – License