Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) denies reports that air traffic controllers at Magong airport rejected a request from crashed TransAsia Airways flight GE222 to change the direction of the turboprop's landing approach.
Taiwanese media reports had claimed that the pilot of the crashed ATR 72-500 had requested to land at the airport's runway 02, instead of the instructed approach from the opposite direction, runway 20.
The CAA confirmed that a request to change the direction of the approach was made by the TransAsia flight crew. It adds, however, that while air traffic controllers were checking with the air force about the request, the pilot changed his mind and decided to land on runway 20. He communicated this decision to ATC prior to making the ill-fated landing attempt.
Magong airport, which handles both civil and military activities, has a single runway, designated 02/20. It is 3,000m (9,800ft) long and runs in a north/north-easterly direction.
“While the ATC was still coordinating with the military, the latest weather data reported a visibility of 1,600m, and the two pilots decided to use runway 20 for landing,” it adds.
The CAA adds that besides TransAsia, an Uni Air aircraft had also requested to land on runway 02 at about the same time. It is not clear at which point of the flight exactly did pilots from both airlines request a change in the direction of their approaches.
TransAsia’s 14-year-old turboprop, registered B-22810, was operating the Kaohsiung-Magong flight when it crashed into buildings on approach to land, killing 48 passengers and crew on board.
Circumstances of the crash have yet to become clear, but Magong was battered by typhoon activity on the day of the accident. Heavy rain and poor visibility reportedly led the flight crew to initiate a go-around after an aborted initial approach.