47 killed in Taiwan plane crash


TransAsia Airways Corp. (6702)passenger plane crashed near Taiwan’s Magong Airport on the island of Penghu, leaving 47 people dead, a safety official said, reports bloomberg.com.

Flight GE222 on an ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop plane crashed on its second approach amid heavy rain at about 7:20 p.m. local time after the pilot earlier performed a go around maneuver, said Sherry Liu, an investigator at Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council. A further 11 were injured, Liu said.

TransAsia, Taiwan’s first private civilian airline founded in 1951, operates eight ATR-72 aircraft mostly for domestic and short-haul international flights. A previous accident involving fatalities was in December 2002 when an aircraft of the same type crashed into the sea, killing the two pilots, according to AviationSafetyNetwork, an accident-information website.

The flight, which took off from southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City, had 54 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew, said Alison Kao, a spokeswoman for the Taipei-based airline. Two of those on board were French nationals, she said.

The pilot had been flying 25 years and had almost 30,000 flight hours, while the co-pilot had been flying about 2 1/2 years with approximately 3,000 hours, Kao said. Both are Taiwanese, she said. The ATR-72 was 13 years old, she said.

Pilots perform a go-around maneuver by boosting engine power and overfly the runway so they can circle back and reattempt the landing. A flight recorder has been found, Civil Aeronautics Administration Deputy Director-General Lee Wan-lee said.

Offices and schools across Taiwan were closed yesterday for Typhoon Matmo, which unloaded heavy rains and knocked out power to about 500,000 homes.

Penghu is situated in the Taiwan Strait, off the western coast of Taiwan’s main island.