Investigators: Problems With Both Engines Before TransAsia Crash in Taiwan

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(CNN)- The pilots of TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 grappled with problems with both the plane’s engines before it clipped a bridge and crashed into a river, killing dozens of people, Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council said Friday.

The stall warning went off in the cockpit five times, starting from about 37 seconds after takeoff, the aviation agency told reporters, citing information from the aircraft’s flight recorders.

The two engines on the ATR 72 twin-engine turboprop aircraft stopped producing power one after the other, leaving the plane flying without thrust for more than a minute, according to the agency.

The alarms sounded for the first engine that ceased power output, but the crew was then heard discussing switching off the other engine before it also stopped generating power.

The pilots issued a mayday alert to air traffic control, announcing an engine flameout, or power failure. They also tried unsuccessfully to restart the engine they had talked about turning off.

The Aviation Safety Council said Friday it was still collecting information on the disaster and wasn’t yet able to say what the reasons were behind the engine shutdowns.

The agency says it will take months to carry out a full analysis of the contents of Flight GE235’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

8 people still missing

Flight GE235 crashed into the Keelung River in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, shortly after taking off Wednesday with 58 people on board.

Authorities say that so far, 35 people have been confirmed dead, 15 survived and 8 are still missing, according to Taiwan’s official news agency CNA. Two people on the ground were also hurt.

The reported engine problems tally with the account of Huang Chin-shun, a 72-year-old survivor of the crash.

“I thought something’s wrong with the engine because I always take this flight,” Huang told CNN affiliate ETTV from his hospital bed on Thursday.

Stephen Fredrick, a pilot who once flew ATRs for American Airlines, told CNN this week that it looked like Flight GE235 was gliding when dashboard cameras on the ground captured the moments before it crashed into the river.

Fredrick pointed to the position of the nose, slightly down, and the wings, level. He said he thought the plane may have lost power in one or both of the engines.

TransAsia was involved in another deadly disaster in July. Forty-eight people died after an ATR 72 aircraft operated by the airline crashed as it was attempting to land in the Taiwanese Penghu Islands during bad weather.

After Wednesday’s crash, Taiwan’s aviation authorities ordered special checks on all ATR 72s in the fleets of local carriers.