Taiwan Pilots Found Still Clutching Controls

Both engines lost power before crash, officials say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2015 5:31 AM CST
Taiwan Pilots Found Still Clutching Controls
Search-and-rescue divers continue to search murky waters for missing persons at the site of the crash in Taipei, Taiwan, today.   (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

The pilot and co-pilot in the TransAsia crash died fighting to save the doomed plane, investigators say. Both men were found dead in the cockpit still gripping the controls, with badly broken legs, Reuters reports. At a press conference today, Taiwan's chief aviation safety official said both engines lost power before the plane crashed into a river on Wednesday, the AP reports. He said that 37 seconds after taking off, the ATR 72's right engine triggered an alarm, but instead of being the "flameout" the pilot announced, it had shifted to idle mode. The left engine was shut down manually 46 seconds later, he says. The pilot tried to restart both engines, but the plane crashed 72 seconds later.

"During the flight's final moments, neither engine had any thrust," said the aviation official, who told reporters that it's too early to fully explain why neither engine had power. At a funeral parlor today, Taiwan's vice president praised the apparent heroism of the pilot in avoiding buildings just before the crash. "When it came to when it was clear his life would end," he said, the pilot "meticulously grasped the flight operating system and in the final moments he still wanted to control the plane to avoid harming residents in the housing communities." Divers recovered four more bodies today, bringing the death toll to 35, with eight still missing. The 15 survivors include a family that changed seats after the father was unsettled by a strange noise. (Read more TransAsia stories.)

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