By Kim Smiley
On February 4, 2015, there were 53 passengers onboard TransAsia Airways Flight 235 when the plane crashed into the Keelung River shortly after taking off from the Taipei Shonshan Airport. There were 15 survivors from this dramatic crash where the plane hit a bridge and taxi cab prior to turning upside down before hitting the river. (The crash was caught on video by dash cameras from a vehicle on the bridge and can be seen here.)
Investigators are still working to determine exactly what happened, but some early findings have been released. The plane involved in this crash was a turboprop with two engines. This model of plane can fly safely with only one engine, but both engines had issues immediately prior to the crash so the pilots were unable to control the plane.
Data from the flight recorder shows that the right engine idled 37 seconds after takeoff. No details about what caused the problem with the right engine have been made available. The initial investigation findings are that the left engine was likely manually shut down by the pilots. It’s not clear why the functioning engine would have been intentionally shut down. Early speculation is that it was a mistake and that the pilots were attempting to restart the idled right engine when they hit the switch for the operating left engine.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing and the final report isn’t expected to be released for about a year, but based on the initial findings, a few solutions to help reduce the likelihood of future crashes have already been implemented. TransAsia has grounded most of its turboprop aircraft pending additional pilot instruction and requalification because it is believed that pilot action may well have contributed to the deadly accident. More than 100 domestic flights have been canceled as a result. Additionally, Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautic Administration has announced that the carrier will be banned from adding new international routes for 12 months. A previous crash in July 2014 had already tarnished TransAsia’s reputation and this latest disaster will certainly be scrutinized by the authorities.
An initial Cause Map, a visual root cause analysis, can be built to analyze the information that is available on this crash and to document where there are still open questions. To view a Cause Map and Outline of this incident, click on “Download PDF” above.