It is starting to look increasingly likely that pilot error - and not just mechanical failure - played a role in last week's TransAsia crash in Taiwan. The company has just announced that a significant number of flights have been cancelled due to "pilot shortage," a nice way of phrasing "if we limit our pilots to only those who are properly trained, we pretty much don't have an airline any more."
Some 34 flights were cancelled yesterday after a significant number of pilots failed an oral test, and additional 44 flights were cancelled today. There are presently only 39 pilots "cleared for flight duties" in the entire airline.
As we reported yesterday, evidence is mounting that a mechanical failure - the plane's right engine flaming out - initiated the crisis aboard last week's doomed TransAsia flight, but then a sloppy pilot response - mistakenly turning off the left engine instead of the right - caused the situation to deteriorate. This narrative is based on black box recordings of the event, but has not been officially confirmed.
Over the last year, Malaysia Airlines became "the one to avoid" for people who didn't understand statistics, but despite that airline's troubles in 2014, it was hard to fundamentally blame the corporation itself for what happened (probably better to blame Russian-supplied militias and black holes).
But, from the looks of things, TransAsia has been running something of a slipshod organization - if it takes a plane crash and the deaths of 43 people to start strictly testing your pilots, then there may be some institutional flaws in your company.
If you have a TransAsia flight coming up (you poor bastard) you can check their website for updates on cancellations.