Pilots of TransAsia Airways Corp. Flight GE222 called for a go around eight seconds before the plane crashed into houses killing 48 people and the voice-recorder stopped, the Taiwan Aviation Safety Council said.
GE222 deviated from its landing approach flight path in the final minute of its July 23 flight and data showed the aircraft banked sharply before slamming into buildings, the investigators said in Taipei today. There was an “unusual” reading on one of the engines of the propeller-driven plane, ASC Executive Director Thomas Wang said in the briefing.
The announcements are the first official account of the final minutes of GE222. Ten people survived the crash of the ATR72-500 turboprop near Magong Airport on Taiwan’s Penghu islands, with investigators examining factors including weather, flight personnel and mechanical issues to determine the cause of the accident.
TransAsia, Taiwan’s oldest civil airline, operates a fleet of ATRs on mostly domestic routes.
Flight GE222, with 54 passengers and four crew, departed southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung city at 5:43 p.m. July 23 after a delay of more than 90 minutes. The pilots made contact with Magong air traffic control at 7:06 p.m., and disappeared after attempting a go-around during landing, the ASC has said in previous statements. Local fire fighters were on the scene by 7:12 p.m., it said.
Radar tracking showed the aircraft circled away from the airfield multiple times prior to the crash, ASC said today. The pilots had requested a runway with instrument landing system prior to deciding on using a facility that didn’t have one.
Runway 20, a south-facing runway is equipped with so-called VHF Omnidirectional Range equipment that helps a pilot to fly the correct course toward a destination, according to charts for the airfield. The opposite Runway 02, facing north, has the more-advanced Instrument Landing System which also assists a pilot fly the correct altitude and glide slope, the charts show.
Debris and broken foliage indicate the aircraft first hit trees 200 meters before the main crash site less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) left and short of the runway, investigators said.
The pilot of the aircraft had almost 23,000 hours of flight experience and the co-pilot had about 2,400 hours, TransAsia said in a statement last week.
Nearby residents told Bloomberg News last week that wind and rain were heavy at the time of the crash. Thunderstorms were observed in the area, according to a meteorology forecast for the airport, while the islands had been swept by a typhoon that passed through earlier in the day.