Head of Taiwan's TransAsia Airways quits after plane crash

TAIPEI - Taiwan's TransAsia Airways said Monday its president Chooi Yee-Chong had left the firm after staying on to help handle the aftermath of the July crash that killed 48 people.

Company spokeswoman Christine Tu told AFP Chooi tendered his resignation before the accident but remained to complete tasks relating to loss of flight GE222, which crashed into civilian houses near the airport in Penghu, a scenic island group in the Taiwan Strait.

His resignation was approved by the board on Friday last week, with vice-president Fred Wu as the acting president since, the company said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Chooi served as a consultant until today.

"Due to his personal career considerations, Mr. Chooi had tendered his resignation early July and was approved verbally. But then the accident happened, and he agreed to stay another month to handle the aftermath," Tu said.

The company last week offered record compensation of Tw$14.9 million (S$620,000) to the families of each victim even though the cause of the crash is still unclear.

The TransAsia Airways flight was carrying 54 passengers and four crew. It crashed into houses after an aborted landing, leaving 48 dead and ten injured. Two French nationals were among the dead.

The ATR 72-500 propeller plane was making a second attempt to land after aborting the first during thunder and heavy rain as Typhoon Matmo lashed Taiwan. Five people on the ground were injured in the crash, which was the island's worst air disaster in a decade.

Angry relatives have blamed the authorities for the disaster, questioning why the plane was cleared to fly in bad weather.

Taiwanese officials have defended the decision to allow the flight to go ahead. Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih has said weather data showed that aviation safety requirements were met when the plane was cleared to fly.

But the airline has now imposed stricter weather requirements for domestic flights.

Examination of the plane's two black boxes - which record cockpit voices and other in-flight data - showed that it had veered off course while descending before colliding with trees and houses.

The Aviation Safety Council, which oversees the investigation, expects to complete its final report before the end of 2015.

With a fleet of 22 passenger aircraft, TransAsia Airways currently provides services on 14 international flights and 29 flights to the Chinese mainland in addition to seven domestic flights.