Pilot’s ‘Mayday’ Distress Call Before Taipei Plane Crash

Someone in the cockpit of a TransAsia Airways flight made a frantic mayday call because of an engine problem just before the plane crashed into a river in Taiwan, killing at least 31 people on Wednesday.

A male voice on a recorded radio conversation between air traffic control and TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 says, “GE235. Mayday, mayday. Engine flameout.” The recording was verified by LiveATC.net, which records air traffic control feeds around the world.

It isn’t clear if the man was a pilot or not.

The passenger plane grazed a bridge and dove into a river in Taipei, according to the island’s official news agency, CNA.

Rescuers raced to pull survivors from the immersed wreckage of the ATR 72 twin-engine turboprop aircraft, which went down shortly after takeoff from the Taiwanese capital.

58 people were aboard the flight when it lost control as it flew to Kinmen, off the coast of the Chinese province of Xiamen.

The toll: 31 confirmed dead, 15 injured and 12 missing, officials said. The search and rescue effort continues.

The plane’s cockpit crew were among those confirmed dead, authorities said.

Crews have recovered the aircraft’s “black boxes,” CNA reported.

The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, which is designed to retain all sounds on a plane’s flight deck and the plane’s performance, including air speed and cabin pressure, were recovered from the plane, according to Ang Xingzhong, the executive director of Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council.

A dash-cam video captured the moment the plane lost control over the city’s Nanhu Bridge before crashing into the Keelung River, just after 11 a.m. local time (10 p.m. ET).

CNA reported that the pilot appeared to try to control the plane as it descended, but the aircraft’s wing grazed the overpass, clipping a passing taxi.

Hours after the crash, TransAsia Airways CEO Chen Xinde extended a “deep apology to the victims and our crew.”

He said 31 of the passengers aboard the flight were Chinese tourists, including three children. Twenty-two were from Taiwan, including one child.

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said the plane was less than a year old and had last completed a safety check on January 26.

The agency did not offer any information on what may have caused the crash.

The TransAsia crash is the latest in a number of plane tragedies involving Asian carriers.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crashed on December 28 as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya toward Singapore. There were 162 people on board.

In July, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 aboard.

TransAsia was involved in another deadly crash in July of last year, too. In Taiwan, 48 died on TransAsia Airways Flight 222, another ATR 72 aircraft. The cause of that crash is unclear.

The most notable and recent mystery has been the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. It disappeared on March 8, 2014.

Full details are available on CNN.


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