The family of a New Zealand citizen co-piloting the TransAsia Airways plane that crashed into a bridge and river in Taiwan are due to arrive back in the country this week, as new information about the crash continues to be revealed.

Ex-Aucklander Chris Dsi-Chung Lau, 45, was counted among the fatalities of last week's air disaster. Last night 40 of the 58 people on board had died while three remained missing and 15 survived.

Flight GE235 came to a devastating end shortly after take-off from Taipei's Sonshan Airport on Wednesday when it turned on its side and hit a bridge, before crashing.

A family spokesman said yesterday that family members had travelled to Taipei and were to return this week.


"It's a very sad time," he said.

Early reports hailed the pilots as heroes for potentially preventing further fatalities, but as investigations continue there are reports that operational error may have contributed to the tragedy.

Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council director Thomas Wang said initial data from the plane's flight recorder showed an alarm from its right engine triggered 37 seconds after take- off. However, he said the data showed it had not shut down, or "flamed out" as the pilot told the control tower, but rather moved into idle mode.

Then, 46 seconds later, the left engine was shut down, apparently by one of the pilots, so neither engine was producing any power. A restart was attempted, but the plane crashed 72 seconds later.

- Additional reporting AP