The black box data and voice recorders of the TransAsia plane that crashed into a river in Taipei show the pilot called "mayday" and announced an engine flameout 35 seconds after noticing engine failure, according to aviation authorities.

About one minute after the announced flameout, the black boxes stopped recording, the Taiwan Aviation Safety Council (TASC) told a news conference today.

A flameout can occur when the fuel supply to an engine is interrupted or when there is faulty combustion.

The data collected also revealed both engines of the ATR 72-600 failed before it plummeted from the sky.

"Based on the data we have so far we can see that for a period of time both engines showed no thrust," said TASC Director Thomas Wang.

"The right engine flamed out and triggered a warning in the cockpit. The left engine was shut down by command and the pilot tried to restart the engine but couldn't," said Mr Wang.

TransAsia Flight GE235 was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it lurched nose-up between buildings, clipped an overpass and a taxi with one of its wings and then crashed upside down into a shallow river after taking off on Wednesday.

At least 35 people were killed, including pilot Liao Chien-tsung, 41, who it has been reported was still clutching the joystick when his body was found in the cockpit, after he battled to avoid populated areas.

Fifteen people survived and rescuers are still searching the river and submerged wreckage for another eight who remain missing.

Liao has been hailed as a hero for apparently making a last-ditch attempt to steer the turboprop plane away from built-up areas during its steep descent, avoiding more deaths and damage.

His body was found in the cockpit still holding the joystick with both hands, and with his legs badly fractured, the Taipei-based China Times newspaper said.

Airline banned from applying for new routes

As hundreds of rescuers and divers battled bad weather to search for those still missing, with four more bodies retrieved today, authorities banned the airline from applying for new routes for one year in the wake of the latest incident.

Wednesday's accident, which occurred on a domestic route to the island of Kinmen, was the second fatal crash for TransAsia after a July disaster that left 48 people dead.

"We have imposed a one-year ban on TransAsia from applying for new routes as a penalty," said Civil Aeronautics Administration director Lin Tyh-ming.

Taiwanese media said the authorities were looking into allegations against the airline including labour shortages and insufficient training which could have affected safety standards.

"There is a manpower shortage of pilots... TransAsia has to recruit pilots with less experience from other companies after more than 20 of its pilots went to two newer airlines," the Apple Daily said, citing unnamed sources.

Calls were also mounting from politicians for TransAsia to suspend its operations.

"This is a serious issue that two crashes occurred in just seven months. The company must immediately adopt an in-depth review of its management regarding problems such as workload and salaries," lawmaker Lin Teh-fu of the ruling Kuomintang party told AFP.