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TransAsia Pilots Take Proficiency Tests After Taiwan Crash

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All 71 pilots who operate TransAsia Airways' ATR aircraft began proficiency tests Saturday, three days after one of the carrier's ATRs crashed into a river, killing at least 39 people.

The airline said it had canceled 90 flights over the next three days to accommodate the requirement by Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration that the ATR pilots be retested.

Preliminary investigations indicate the pilots of Wednesday's doomed flight shut off a running engine of the ATR 72 after its other engine went idle, and aviation experts say the move was an error.

"It's a mistake," said John M. Cox, a former US Airways pilot and now head of a safety-consulting company. "There are procedures that pilots go through — safeguards — when you're going to shut down an engine, particularly close to the ground. Why that didn't occur here, I don't know."

Local prosecutors have said they will be looking into the possibility of "professional error."

Thomas Wang, head of Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council, said Saturday that it was too early to reach conclusions about any pilot error.

Pratt & Whitney Canada, the plane's engine maker, and the safety council have begun to examine both of the aircraft's engines, a process that can take four months, Wang said.

The crash into the muddy Keelung River in Taipei minutes after takeoff killed at least 39 people and left four missing, with rescuers recovering four more bodies on Saturday, according to the Taipei City Fire Department.

Fifteen people were rescued with injuries after the accident, which was captured in a dramatic dashboard camera video that showed the aircraft banking steeply and scraping a highway overpass before it hurtled into the water.

IN-DEPTH

- The Associated Press

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