Air traffic control officers charged over deadly Taiwan crash

Rescue workers and firefighters search through the wreckage of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 after it crashed near the airport at Magong on the Penghu island chain on July 24, 2014

Taipei (AFP) – Taiwan has charged two air traffic control officers with causing a TransAsia plane crash that killed 49 people in 2014, the first prosecutions in the country’s worst air disaster for 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 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 the pilots had caused the crash on July 23, 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 Thursday a senior duty officer at Magong surnamed Ching, and another member of staff surnamed 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. 


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