Taiwan crash survivor: Engine didn’t feel right
06 February 2015, 11:00
Taipei - Taiwan's plane crash survivor
Huang Jin-sun suspected trouble from the start of the ill-fated TransAsia
Airways flight, claiming the engine ‘did not feel right’.
"There was some sound next to me. It
did not feel right shortly after takeoff. The engine did not feel right,"
the 72-year-old man told ETTV television on Thursday from his hospital bed.
Huang was one of 15 people who survived
when the TransAsia Airways turbojet carrying 58 people crashed on Wednesday
into a river minutes after taking off in Taipei. At least 32 people died and 11
are still missing.
Moments before the plane banked sharply and
crashed, one of its pilots told the control tower, "Mayday, mayday, engine
flameout," according to an aviation official who asked not to be
"Engine flameout" refers to
flames being extinguished in the combustion chamber of the engine, so that it
shuts down and no longer drives the propeller. Causes could include a lack of
fuel or being struck by volcanic ash, a bird or some other object.
"Mayday" is an international distress call.
The airline and the Taiwan Civil
Aeronautical Administration have declined to speculate on the cause of the
crash, the latest in a series of disasters befalling Asian airlines.
The ATR 72-600 plane, less than a year old,
had one of its engines replaced by Pratt & Whitney Canada last April before
it went into service because of a glitch with the original engine, the airline said.
The plane's black boxes were recovered
overnight and are likely to provide more clues.
Video images of Flight 235's final moments
in the air captured on car dashboard cameras appear to show the left engine's
propeller at standstill as the aircraft turned sharply, its wings becoming
vertical and clipping a highway bridge before plunging into the Keelung River
Huang said he helped four other passengers
unbuckle their seatbelts after the plane crashed and began sinking in the
"I saw others were drowning," he
said. "If I did not move quickly enough to help them, soon they would be
Also among the survivors was a family of
three, including a 2-year-old boy whose heart stopped beating after three
minutes under water. He recovered after receiving CPR, his uncle Lin Ming-yi
The pilots' actions in the flight's final
moments have led to speculation that they attempted to avoid high-rise
buildings by following the line of the river and then banked sharply in an
attempt to bring it down in the water rather than crash on land.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je praised pilot Liao
Chien-tsung as a hero for having avoided crashing into buildings or major
"We really have to thank that
pilot," Ko said. "He really tried his hardest."
Divers searched the river on Thursday for
the remaining 11 people on board, including the two pilots. A crane was used to
bring the rear section of the plane to the shore on Wednesday night.
Police diver Cheng Ying-chih said search
was hampered by low visibility in the turbid river and cold water temperatures
that forced divers to work in one-hour shifts.
By midday on Thursday, about a dozen
relatives of Taiwanese victims arrived at the riverbank to perform traditional
mourning rituals. Accompanied by Buddhist monks ringing brass bells, they bowed
toward the river and held aloft cloth inscriptions tied to pieces of bamboo
meant to guide the spirits of the dead to rest.
Relatives of some of the 31 passengers from
mainland China reached Taipei on a charter flight on Thursday afternoon.
Inquest into planes
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou visited two
Taipei hospitals on Thursday to check on the condition of people injured in the
crash and stopped by a morgue to comfort relatives of the victims, his office
"This kind of air safety incident not
only wrecks countless happy families but also affects trust in our tourism climate
among tourists from outside Taiwan," it said in a statement. "We must
undergo this bitter experience and make all-out improvements."
The ATR 72-600 is the most modern version
of the plane manufactured by ATR, a joint venture between European aircraft
giant Airbus and Italian aerospace company Alenia Aermacchi. About 1 200 of the
planes are currently in use worldwide.
TransAsia Airways is Taiwan's third biggest
airline by fleet size after China Airlines and Eva Air. The pilot had 4,900
hours of flying experience, said Lin Chih-ming of the Civil Aeronautics
A team from ATR was being sent to Taiwan to
help in the investigation.