Video shows airliner crash

We don’t often get to see what a plane crash looks like.

This is what it looks like.

TransAsia GE 235, a domestic flight from Taipei to Kinmen, crashed about three minutes after it took off yesterday, the Guardian reports.

The left wing down and the beginning of a roll underway suggests the plane’s wing lift “stalled.”

  • John O.

    I’m guessing the driver in the vehicle in front of the one taking this video saw his/her life flash in front of them. Wow.

  • jon

    whole plane seems to drop (8 secs) then starts to roll… but it doesn’t look like it slows down at all… some sort of down draft cause the plane to drop like that?

    I wonder how the conversation with the insurance company for the car/van/bus that got clipped by the left wing as it went down went.

    • It wouldn’t slow down. It’s a stall, it’d just drop. It’s not an engine stall, to be clear. It’s a wing stall.

      The attempt to pull the nose up only made it worse.

      In a stall, there’s only one solution: point the nose down to pick up airspeed. That opportunity had passed by the time we see the plane in this video.

      • jon

        that close to take off does the plane have enough altitude to point down and pick up air speed and still pull out of the stall?

        It almost looks as though the plane is still climbing from take off in the video… but your explanation of pulling the nose up while in the stall by the time it came into frame makes sense too…

        • I don’t know how far the airport is from where it took off.

          Clearly by the time the plane’s airspeed degraded this badly, there was no room to recover.

          But, you just can’t get yourself into a spin because nobody survives a spin. Once you know you’re going down, you try to keep the wings level .

          This accident at Flying Cloud a few years ago is basically the same thing.

          Nobody pulls out of a stall. You can only push out of a stall. It’s contrary to all of our instincts.

          There’s still a chance here that there’s a problem with a rudder, elevator or aileron (there’s something weird in the image of the left elevator at :03). But I tend to doubt it. This is a pretty common situation in plane crashes.

          If the pilot lost an engine, it starts the chain of failures that lead to tragedy.

          • jon

            BBC has an areal photo of the vicinity where the crash happened…


            Google maps suggests that it’s a little under two miles to the crash site from the end of the airport…

            BBC is also suggesting (not confirming) the pilot radio an engine flame out.
            The video doesn’t show any smoke or anything from the engines, maybe that only happens in the movies…

          • Up until today, this video of a U.S. tanker crashing in Afghanistan was the most shocking crash I’d seen on vid.


            Notice how the pilot recovered from the developing spin.

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            Both are horrifying. We’re trained to see planes doing very repeated, controlled actions. We’re not used to seeing them plunge straight down or roll sideways to expose their belly as we’re driving down the roadway. It’s seeing them so out of place that drains the blood from my face. What horror.

            There’s an article on Jalopnik that lays out the map along with altitude, speed and ATC recordings. The pilot declared mayday and reported some kind of flameout. I can’t find it right now.

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            If the engine was dead it probably wouldn’t be smoking.

          • The props were clearly turning but that doesn’t mean they were turning with velocity and if they weren’t, the one that wasn’t was also providing significant drag, requiring them to “feather” the prop — change the pitch so that it’s no creating drag.

            That plane should be able to fly on one engine, but engine quitting, prop needing feathering, ground coming up fast, airspeed declining…. man, you gotta get it all right in a hurry because if you’re a few seconds late responding, it’s not going to matter.

            A terrible thing.

          • jon

            Should be able to fly on one engine, but during take off I’d guess they are using some where near full engine power… (probably with a good safety margin)

            and if they crashed that close to the airport I’m going to have to assume they were still trying to climb…

            But I’ve no particular insight, and very much appreciate yours Bob.

          • The problem is you can’t climb your way out of a stall.

            A favorite saying of flight instructors is to say “See that yoke? Pull back and you go up. Pull back more and you go down.”

      • Jack

        Silencing of the prop is not a good sound to hear when flying in a plane like that.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        What’s the difference?

        • The difference between pushing down and pulling up?

          You can’t recover from a stall without airspeed. If you don’t push the nose down, you don’t gain airspeed.

          Flying is just trading airspeed for altitude or, in this case, trading altitude for airspeed.

          At this height, they had nothing left to trade.

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            An air stall and an engine stall.

          • Ah. When you hear “stall” ,. they almost always mean, basically” a “lift” stall. Consider that planes are actually lifted into the air by virtue of the fact air goes OVER a wing faster than it goes under it, thus creating a vacuum similar to the one that makes a door in your house slam shut on a breezy day, even if the wind isn’t coming into the home.

            The wing has an “angle of attack” to it — the angle of the wing in relation to the air and as that angle of attack increases (say in a nose-high attitude), the air flow over the surface of the wing “breaks” and there is no longer any lift being created.

            That’s the stall.

            On many planes, the left wing will stall before the right wing (there’s a certain amount of generalizing going on here), which is why when you hear of stall/spin accidents, the left wing is the one that drops.

            Watch the pieces of yarn on this wing and you can see what a stall looks like:


            A stall can actually occur at any airspeed, depending on the situation, but typically occurs in landing and takeoff, mostly in landing when a pilot tries to stretch out a glide.

            You don’t usually hear “stall” refer to any action involving an engine.

            It’s really a matter of energy management.

            The great Bob Hoover — still alive and kicking — who was one of Yeager’s wingmen, I believe, was a master of energy management and understanding the principles of lift when he used to do his airshow performance in a twin commander without an engine.


          • jon

            Why the left wing first?

            Is the wing built/shaped differently, or just how the aircraft is weighted? Is it because the pilot sits on the left so the controls are all over there?

          • Well, in this case I think it’s because the elevator or horizontal stabilizer it hit a building, but in propellor driven aircraft, there is such a thing called gyroscopic precession and the torque of a spinning propeller, coupled with the slipstream pattern (at least in singles, I can’t speak with any expertise on twin engines) which rotates around fuselage and tends to hit the vertical stabilizer on the left side, creating a tendency to yaw left.

            One a plane begins to roll left, the outside wing is moving through the air faster than the inboard wing (which is stalled), creating more lift in that wing and further encouraging the roll left.

            It can be counteracted with the rudder, which the video of the Afghanistan crash I posted elsewhere in the comments shows. He/she had the right idea, just not enough altitude.

  • MrE85

    Horrifying. I’m reminded of the Air Florida flight that clipped a bridge in Washington, DC before it crashed into the Potomac River in the early 80’s. Engineers from Ft. Belvoir (where I was later stationed) helped recover wreckage and remains.

    • I always shake my head when I hear passengers complaining because they have to deice the plane.

      • davidz

        Passengers to need to step back and look at the situation. They’re about to be whisked hundreds of miles, perhaps thousands, and delivered to their destination in relative comfort for a surprisingly small amount of money. Compare my last plane flight — MSP to SEA. Driving would take days, as would any other form of land transport. The ticket cost less than the motel expenses I would have run up over those days (and I don’t tend to stay in costly motels).

        So really — 1200 miles in a couple of hours is fantastic enough. Those extra few moments to wait for de-icing will not inconvenience me.

        Why, yes, M. Pilot & Crew. please take every opportunity you have to make my flight safer. I do promise to not mind that you might get me to my destination 15 minutes later than advertised.

  • Jeff C.

    Wow. How horrifying. Seeing this makes me realize how terrifying a plane crash must be for the passengers as well as the crew. Trapped, aware of what is happening and what is going to happen and in a plane that is sideways. (Note to self – finish my living will ASAP.)

    • Jack

      As a passenger and noticing the panicked horrific expressions on the front end crews faces doesn’t help either. Buckle in, head between legs and kiss the back end good bye.

    • kevinfromminneapolis

      I rode a roller coaster once and it was complete terror. No joke, I was petrified. If I were in this situation and had my wits I would honestly look for a way to end things.

      • Jack

        As the plane falls sideways you can feel the same horrific stomach up in mouth, feeling out-of-control, feeling that rollercoasters have to offer. not good.

  • Knute

    It’s hard to tell how close it came to those buildings in the background. It could have been much worse (for victim count).

  • Jeff C.

    I can’t believe that 15 of the passengers survived!

    • Jack

      yah, that too.

      • A lot of energy got dissipated when hitting the building and then the bridge…so that at least increased the odds a bit.