According to a new report released Thursday, the pilot in the deadly TransAsia crash admitted seconds before impact that he had accidentally shut off the wrong engine.
The cockpit recordings apparently caught the pilot, Liao Chien-tsung, saying, “Wow pulled back the wrong side throttle,” immediately before the plane crashed dramatically over a bridge and into the Taipei harbor. The details, via the New York Times:
The right engine of the ATR 72-600, a twin-engine turboprop, stopped producing thrust shortly after takeoff from Taipei Songshan Airport, according to the Aviation Safety Council’s report. But the pilot, Liao Chien-tsung, 42, apparently thought there was a problem with the left engine, which he shut off less than a minute later.
The shutting down of the wrong engine was seen as a likely cause of the crash when the Aviation Safety Council released its initial finding in February. A conclusion on the crash’s cause is to be included in a final report scheduled to be published next year. The report issued Thursday stops short of laying blame, but it offers new details about what went wrong.
Chien-tsung died in the impact, along with 43 other passengers and crew members. It’s not clear how qualified he was to fly—the report notes he failed a simulator test in 2013. Although he passed a subsequent makeup exam, he reportedly had “insufficient knowledge leading to hesitations during oral tests about what to do during an engine shutdown on takeoff or loss of electronic engine controls, according to the report.”
At least ten other pilots failed similar oral exams after the crash and were suspended by the airline.