View Full Version : Controllers prosecuted for TransAsia plane crash

15th Apr 2016, 07:52
Two air traffic control officers charged for Taiwan's worst crash in decade - Firstpost (http://www.firstpost.com/world/two-air-traffic-control-officers-charged-for-taiwans-worst-crash-in-decade-2730798.html)

Taipei: Taiwan has charged two air traffic control officers for the TransAsia plane crash that killed 49 people in 2014, the first prosecutions in the country's worst air disaster in a decade.

The plane's two pilots, who died in the crash, were also blamed for flying Flight GE222 into a residential area as the aircraft attempted to land at Magong city airport in the Penghu islands.

"The four people are found to have been negligent in their duties over this crash," the Penghu prosecutors said in a statement on Thursday, referring to the two air traffic control officers and the pair of pilots.

The pilots will not be prosecuted, but ground staff in charge of air traffic that day are being sued for criminal negligence, which carries a jail term of up to five years.

Taiwan's aviation body in January said that the pilots had caused the crash on 23 July 2014, by flying too low as they tried to land during a typhoon.

The probe also blamed other factors for the disaster, including poor communication of weather information to the flight crew and coordination issues at Magong airport.

Prosecutors said on Thursday that a senior duty officer at Magong, Ching, along with another member of staff Li, contributed to the crash by not allowing the plane to land.

The pair spoke for 12 minutes after receiving the plane's request to land but Ching did not give the necessary approval considering the bad weather conditions.

TransAsia has seen several accidents in recent years that have raised concern about the airline's safety standards.
Seven months after Flight GE222 crashed, 43 people were killed when another TransAsia plane clipped a bridge and plunged into a river in Taipei.

15th Apr 2016, 08:47
Am I missing something? How are the ATC controllers more guilty than the pilots? They suggested they do not land, but the pilots still attempted it. What more could ATC do? Are the patients in charge of the asylum?

15th Apr 2016, 09:46
Knowing a thing or two about Asia, there is probably a bit more to this. As a responsible approach control duty officer you can do two things: either the aerodrome is operational, in which case you acknowledge any inbound traffic contact and facilitate approach and landing using all available resources and your best abilities OR if you believe that the met (or any other) conditions are unsuitable for continued safe operations, you declare the airport closed, and instruct all incoming traffic to divert. My reading is that in the twelve minutes spent discussing they did neither, trying to avoid making any decision and shifting responsibility to the crew, while allowing the weather conditions to deteriorate further.

Of course this does not make them any more guilty (or I'd rather say accountable) than the pilots, but they are alive to stand on the edge of the carpet while the pilots, sadly, are not.

15th Apr 2016, 14:14
My reading is that in the twelve minutes spent discussing they did neither, trying to avoid making any decision and shifting responsibility to the crew, while allowing the weather conditions to deteriorate further.

Ah, the hand of Mother Nature/God was in the tower. (I know what you meant). Where I have been taught the legend of airmanship the pilot receives information and is then responsible for making a decision about what to do. You suggest ATC can close an airfield. That might be an Asian thing. In my world ATC can close a runway, but not an airfield for Wx reasons. They advise the crews about ground conditions and any salient surrounding weather and then leave it up to the crew to decide. Are ATC so highly trained in different types of a/c handing characteristics and pilots' abilities that they can decide if it is safe to attempt a landing or not? Surely not.

ATC Watcher
15th Apr 2016, 14:39
RAT 5 you are absolutely correct. ATC cannot decide if a pilot can land or not , you can pass all kind information or suggestions but a controller cannot decide if a pilot can or cannot land due weather. he also cannot judge what fuel is needed for diversion for alternates to start with.
An airport manager can decide to close an airport for various reasons , security, emergency, weather in some cases (e.g. flooding ) construction, but not ATC.
ATC can close a runway ( in case blocked) but not an airport due weather.
So there must be more to this story. Maybe Taiwan has differences with ICAO on this , or the journalists got the terminology wrong.
Will try to find out.

15th Apr 2016, 15:13
ATC can close a runway ... but not an airport due weather.At a single-runway airport such as Magong, closing the runway equals closing the airport (for flying operations anyway), no?

15th Apr 2016, 16:20
It would be good to know more because right now, it doesn't make any sense. I've just gone through the accident report and although the findings include coordination issues, there's nothing that I can see which puts fault with ATC other than some confusion regarding the RVR values.

At the time of the occurrence, the mechanisms in place for weather information and runway availability coordination between civil and military personnel at Magong’s joint-use airport were less effective than what they could have been. In particular, the inconsistent information or discrepancies regarding airport visibility during the aircraft’s approach were unresolved. In addition, the rapidly changing AWOS RVR data was not communicated by the tower controller to the occurrence flight crew. Those inconsistencies meant that there was no collaborative decision-making relationship between the civil air traffic controllers, military weather observer, and flight crew. That resulted in the occurrence flight crew not being fully aware of the rapidly deteriorating RVR while on approach and the high likelihood that the RVR would not be sufficient for landing. Had the local controller provided the flight crew with RVR updates during the approach, it may have placed the crew in a better position to determine the advisability of continuing the approach.

That's a far cry from probable cause.

ATC Watcher
15th Apr 2016, 16:25
ATC can close a runway ... but not an airport due weather.
At a single-runway airport such as Magong, closing the runway equals closing the airport (for flying operations anyway), no?Yes of course the end effect is the same but the reasons for it are quite different
For instance at this very moment the runway there is closed due construction. It is NOTAMed and is clear :
A0706/16 NOTAMN
Q) RCAA/QMRLC/IV/NBO/A/000/999/2334N11938E005
A) RCQC B) 1604071400 C) 1606282000
D) 1400-2000
CREATED: 07 Apr 2016 08:01:00

You cannot do this ad hoc for weather reasons with an aircraft on final . But I was reminded that Magong is a joint civil military airport, so different rules might apply.
On the other hand the final report is quite clear that crew went below MDA without visual contact and hit trees . Not much to do with ATC but a local judge might see it differently. Happened before in other countries. ( e.g. Italy )

15th Apr 2016, 17:04
For those who don't have time for the 200+ page report, I've written up a summary of the accident here: Fear of Landing ? TransAsia Flight 222 CFIT and criminal charges against ATC (http://fearoflanding.com/accidents/accident-reports/transasia-flight-222-cfit-and-criminal-charges-against-atc/)

Makes me feel less bad about spending the day going over it. :)

IFPS man
15th Apr 2016, 17:53
I wonder (and hope) that IFATCA "get on the case"

ATC Watcher
15th Apr 2016, 18:12
aka Sylvia : excellent resume , thanks , fully agree with your conclusion.

IFPS man : yes they are on it. But we depend on the willingness of the local Association to request help. In Asia that is unfortunately not that simple. We could not intervene in Japan when 2 controllers ( including a trainee) were prosecuted, found guilty and lost their jobs after an airprox. We have also a similar case in Korea after a collision between 2 VFRs.
Asian society is always looking for someone to blame, and culturally everyone accepts this, even the victims.:rolleyes:

15th Apr 2016, 19:46
Is it the east of Suez Captain is still God, while west of Suez they are just mere mortals?