TransAsia Cuts 122 Flights as Taiwan Orders ATR Pilot Tests

TransAsia Airways Corp. announced the cancellation of a further 32 flights on Tuesday to allow its ATR pilots to undergo mandated retraining and tests after a post-takeoff crash that killed at least 40 people.

This brings to 122 the total number of flights canceled. The Taipei-based carrier yesterday said it canceled 24 flights on Saturday, 36 on Sunday and 30 on Monday. All affected flights are on domestic routes to Kinmen, Penghu and Hualian from Kaoshiung, Taichung and Taipei, the airline said in e-mailed statements on Saturday and Sunday.

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration had on Friday ordered the retraining and tests after investigators provided the first details of what happened to TransAsia Flight 235, an ATR72 turboprop that plunged into Taipei’s Keelung River after takeoff on Feb. 4. The CAA says three people are still missing from the crash, which followed a July accident in which 48 people died in another of the carrier’s ATR72 aircraft.

All 71 of TransAsia’s ATR pilots must undergo training and oral and written tests on emergency procedures within the next four days, CAA Director-General Tim Lin said Friday at a news conference. Pilots, who will still be able to fly even if they haven’t yet taken the tests, will later have to practice in simulators, Lin said.

“I and my family would of course board their planes,” said Clark Lin, the CAA’s director for flight standards, as he placed his right hand on his heart at a press conference on Friday in Taipei. “The fact that we have imposed these requirements shows our confidence.”

Safety Review

TransAsia President Fred Wu said the airline plans a safety review that will include hiring outside specialists to consult on an overhaul of operations. He didn’t give details. TransAsia flies Airbus Group NV jets as well as turboprops from ATR, a partnership between Airbus and Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi SpA.

While data from Flight 235 show the right engine was operating normally, an engine warning went off and the propeller was automatically “feathered,” a setting that turns the blades so they’re parallel to the airflow to reduce drag, Thomas Wang, managing director of the Aviation Safety Council said Friday.

Soon after, the other engine had its propeller setting manually reduced before the fuel flow was cut off, Wang said. Investigators aren’t yet able to explain the warnings, engine operations or the crew’s actions, Wang said.

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