[UPDATED] A TransAsia Airways ATR 72-600 has crashed into a river in Taipei, with at least 30 people reported dead.
The incident occurred shortly after takeoff from Taipei’s Songshan Airport just before 11 a.m. local time Feb. 4.
“ATR regrets to confirm that an ATR 72-600 operated by Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways was involved in an accident today at around 10:45 a.m. (local time) near Taipei Songshan Airport (Taiwan). The flight GE235 was operating between Taipei and Kinmen with 58 people on board,” ATR said in a statement.
The manufacturer confirmed the identity of the aircraft as MSN 1141, operating with the tail number B-22816.
A video shot by a motorist shows the turboprop dropping and banking steeply before clipping a road bridge with its wing. The aircraft ended up mostly submerged in the Keelung River, and rescuers used inflatable boats to recover passengers from the aircraft hull.
Fatalities have so far exceeded 30, with others missing. There were 53 passengers and five crew onboard the flight from Taipei to the island of Kinmen, with about 30 believed to have been from China.
“The Aviation Safety Council of Taiwan will lead the investigation and will be the official source of information. According to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) regulations, ATR will advise the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et Analyses (BEA), safety investigation authority representing the State of the aircraft manufacturer,” ATR said.
According to the US Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network service, “The airplane took off from Taipei-Sung Shan Airport's runway 10 at 10:51 hours local time and turned right, climbing to an altitude of 1350 feet. Instead of continuing the climbing right hand turn, the airplane turned left and began losing altitude and speed. Meanwhile, about 10:53, the flight contacted the Sung Shan Tower controller declaring a Mayday and reporting an 'engine flameout'. It then turned to the right before banking almost 90 degrees left again as it hit a taxi on a viaduct. Parts of the left hand wing broke off upon hitting the barrier of the viaduct. The airplane impacted the Keelung River and came to rest inverted.”
The ATR 72 was powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127 engines.
TransAsia had another ATR 72 accident in July last year, when an aircraft crashed into buildings while on approach to Magong Airport on the Taiwanese island of Penghu during stormy weather, with 48 killed and 10 people surviving.
According to the Aviation Week fleet database, TransAsia operates five ATR 72-600s with another five on order. The average age of these aircraft is less than a year. The carrier has a total fleet of 22, including six ATR 72-500s, five Airbus A320s, four A321s, and two A330s.