February 5, 2015
TransAsia’s and Uni Air’s ATR 72s grounded after Wednesday’s fatal crash in Taipei
Subsequent to the tragic air crash on Wednesday in Taipei, its Civil Aerospace Authority (CAA) has grounded all Taiwanese-registered ATR 72s for the purpose of carrying out safety checks to establish if they meet the CAA’s standards. This not only affects TransAsia, but also Uni Air, another local carrier. Including the crashed aircraft, TransAsia operates six ATR 72-500s and four ATR 72-600s. Uni Air operates 12 ATR 72-600s. Fred Wu, the President of TransAsia Airways, indicated to journalists that TransAsia was complying with the request.
“The airline, as requested from the CAA, is specifically checking all ATR aircraft in the fleet. They have not finished checking one until this morning,” he said. “Once we have one finished, CAA will confirm the results before we start flying that aircraft again.” In addition, the CAA has banned TransAsia from applying for new traffic rights for a year, according to CNA, Taiwan’s state news agency and the fleet of ATR planes will remain grounded until further notice.
Prior to the ATR 72-600’s crash into the Keelung River, the plane had flown three times that day. 32 people are confirmed as having died in the crash, while 15 survivors are being treated in local hospitals. 11 of the 58 people on board the plane, which included 53 passengers, two pilots and three cabin crew, are still unaccounted for. This accident takes the number of fatal incidents involving ATR planes to 11, including last July’s fatal crash on Penghu Island, though that was an older 72-500 model.
Despite the number of accidents, ATR planes do have a good reputation. Desmond Ross, principal of DRA Professional Aviation Services, a consultancy for airlines and aviation authorities, is quoted as saying: “(The ATR 72) is actually a very good aircraft — it’s been around for a while. It’s used extensively in regional services, including by Virgin in Australia. Generally speaking it’s a good aircraft. It doesn’t have reputation as a difficult plane to fly. I know one guy who has flown them in Africa and Australia who thinks it’s a great aircraft. I can’t speak to them being dangerous.”
The ATR’s cost-efficiency is the reason for its popularity with airlines, especially those operating in the low-cost sector and less-popular routes which usually transport smaller numbers of passengers. The ATR is seen as a workhorse for the Asia Pacific turboprop fleet.