Why and how did QZ8501 crash?
QZ8501 plane likely stalled after steep climb: minister
His comments came after Indonesian investigators said they were focusing on the possibility of human error or problems with the plane having caused the crash, following an initial analysis of the cockpit voice recorder.
“We didn’t hear any other person, no explosion,” investigator Nurcahyo Utomo told reporters, explaining why terrorism had been ruled out. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Committee were now looking at the “possibility of plane damage and human factors”, he said, without giving further details.
JAKARTA: An AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea last month with 162 people on board climbed at a faster than normal speed and then stalled, the Indonesian transport minister said on Tuesday (Jan 20).
Flight QZ8501 went down on December 28 in stormy weather, during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. Indonesia’s meteorological agency has said bad weather may have caused the crash, and investigators are analysing the data from the jet’s black boxes before releasing a preliminary report.
Just moments before the plane disappeared off the radar, the pilot had asked to climb to avoid the storm. He was not immediately granted permission due to heavy air traffic.
“In the final minutes, the plane climbed at a speed which was beyond normal,” Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan told reporters, citing radar data. “The plane suddenly went up at a speed above the normal limit that it was able to climb to. Then it stalled.”
Earlier at a parliamentary hearing, he said radar data showed the Airbus A320-200 appeared at one point to be climbing at a rate of 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) a minute before the crash. There were several other planes in the area at the time.
“I think it is rare even for a fighter jet to be able to climb 6,000 feet per minute,” he said. “For a commercial flight, climbing around 1,000 to 2,000 (feet) is maybe already considered extraordinary, because it is not meant to climb that fast.”
All theories are educated guesses at best. Only after the black box has been recovered, is it possible to tell what happened.
The 2009 crash ended up being, at least in part, a lesson in the hazards of automation. During that time, deprived of autopilot, the panicking men flying the Air France flight took actions that made matters worse, including trying to carry out different maneuvers simultaneously from both sets of controls. Since then, many have cautioned that pilots are often ill-equipped to take over when things go wrong.
AirAsia flight has parallels with 2009 ocean crash
PARIS — The jet dropped from the sky swiftly, without a mayday call. It was quickly swallowed up by the waves.
It took nearly two years to find the black boxes from Air France Flight 447, but the Rio de Janeiro to Paris flight that fell into the Atlantic Ocean in the early hours of June 1, 2009, could offer insight into what may have gone wrong on AirAsia’s Flight 8501. Both flights killed everyone on board, both were flying into storms when they disappeared, and — in both cases — it seemed to the pilots of the Airbus that a climb was the way out of their predicament.
In the Air France flight, several factors converged to bring the plane down: The three pilots of the Airbus A330 were confused by faulty air-speed data after key sensors iced over. Then, about 25 minutes into turbulence, the autopilot and autothrust cut out, and the pilot at the controls began a steep climb, despite requests from the co-pilot in the cockpit to descend.
The captain, who had been away from the cockpit, returned about 90 seconds after the first stall warnings sounded. Four minutes and 23 seconds after the first alarms sowed panic and confusion over how to regain control of the aircraft, the plane slammed into the ocean, plummeting belly first at nearly 3,350m per minute. The wreckage was found 3,900m beneath the sea, its black boxes intact.
Above the Java Sea, the pilot of the AirAsia Airbus A320 told air traffic control he was approaching threatening clouds, but he was denied permission to climb to a higher altitude. The plane lost contact minutes later. Search teams have not yet found the black boxes containing the same crucial information that pinpointed the causes of the Air France flight.
Icing likely culprit in plane crash, says Jakarta
AirAsia QZ8501: Icing likely culprit in crash http://dlvr.it/80K9km
SINGAPORE: Extreme bad weather triggered last Sunday’s crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, Indonesia’s weather officials said Friday, as Russia became the latest nation to get involved in the search effort for the doomed jetliner.
The 14-page “meteorological analysis” is the first official word from Jakarta on the reasons for the crash and comes close to confirming widespread speculation on the reasons for the disaster.
“The most probable weather phenomenon is that icing caused the plane engines to be damaged,” said the report by Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).
“This is however just one analysis of what likely happened based on available meteorological data, and is not the final determination on the cause of the incident.”
BMKG’s report, authored by Professor Edvin Aldrian, head of its research and development unit, came as high waves impeded divers from entering the sea.
Investigating AirAsia QZ8501: What needs to be done?
(CNN) — The investigation into how AirAsia Flight QZ8501 ended up at the bottom of the Java Sea, involves recovering the bodies, accessing the flight data recorders, and meticulously mapping where debris is found to reconstruct its path.
The bodies give clues about what happened on the flight, based on where they’re found and their condition. For example, sea water in their lungs would suggest that the people on board may have been conscious when the plane struck the sea.
There is particular attention to the location of the bodies and various debris.
The key to understanding what happened is likely contained in the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, commonly known as black boxes.
The cockpit voice recorder collects audio from the pilots’ microphones and various channels.
“It picks up other sounds like clicks, things going wrong, thuds, hail. You can hear that on the windshield,” said Mary Schiavo, a lawyer and former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Acoustic experts can comb through the audio to try to determine the meaning of every click and sound.
The data recorder holds hundreds of pieces of data such as airspeed, altitude, whether the plane’s nose was up or down and which direction it was headed. All that data would print out on long sheets, almost like EKGs, that authorities would use to piece together a timeline of the flight.
CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark, Ashley Fantz and Randi Kaye contributed to this report.
HERE ARE TWO THEORIES OF WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED
The discovery of the AirAsia airliner’s fuselage in the Java Sea raises new questions about what caused the crash. Possible versions range from misread instruments leading to a stall to a murder-suicide
1. MISREAD INSTRUMENTS
Some flight experts point out that the AirAsia Airbus A320 crash has similarities with another flight incident, that of Air France flight AF447 in 2009.
The plane was officially classed as missing for two years and was found only in 2011. The investigation showed instruments called pitot tubes froze and gave false airspeed readings to the crew. They failed to respond to the problem accordingly and didn’t notice that the plane was about to stall or to try to recover it.
2. MURDER-SUICIDE (EXTREMELY FAR-FETCHED!)
The plane could have been damaged by a small bomb exploding onboard, John Nance, a former US Air Force pilot, told ABC News.
“Maybe one that wasn’t strong enough to blow the airplane into pieces at altitude, but maybe one that blew the control cables from the hydraulics,” he said.
An even more exotic version would be a deliberate crash by the pilot in a murder-suicide, Nance added. At least three crashes in the past 20 years were caused by this.
One example is SilkAir Flight 185, also from Indonesia, which crashed into a river in southern Sumatra in 1997. Indonesian investigators reported that they couldn’t collect conclusive evidence to rule on the cause of the incident.
But the US National Transportation Safety Board, which participated in the investigation because the aircraft in question was a Boeing 737, said the plane crashed due to deliberate input from the cockpit, most likely by the captain.
AirAsia Flight QZ8501: It wasn’t controlled ditching, says expert
The pilot onboard Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 was probably not able to do a ‘controlled ditching’ of the plane on Sunday morning before it crashed in the Java sea, said an aviation expert to Bloomberg on Wednesday.
“That’s clear from the finding of bodies that don’t have life jackets on,” said Mr Paul Hayes, safety director at London-based aviation consulting company Ascend Worldwide Ltd.
Controlled ditching, or water landing, refers to an emergency landing on water. Such landings are rare for commercial passenger airlines.
According to Reuters, investigators are focusing on the timing of the crew’s request to climb to a higher altitude to avoid bad weather as a possible factor behind the tragedy, a source close to the probe said.
Among the early lines of inquiry is whether the crew could have asked to ascend, or climbed on their own initiative in case of emergency, at an earlier stage, and what role storms in the area might have played.
AirAsia Flight QZ8501: Unlikely that plane exploded in mid-air, say experts
Experts say plane could have hit Java Sea intact and broken up on impact before plunging to sea floor
AirAsia Flight QZ8501: Unlikely that plane exploded in mid-air, say experts http://str.sg/ZsH
It is unlikely that Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 exploded in mid-air, air crash experts say, as the first pieces of debris were spotted and some bodies recovered.
Chances are that the plane hit the Java Sea intact and broke up upon impact before plunging to the ocean floor.
The wreckage of the Airbus 320-200 was found more than 48 hours after the ill-fated flight, which left Surabaya for Singapore on Sunday morning with 162 people on board, went missing.
Search teams reported seeing some bodies intact.
An air force plane reportedly spotted a shadow of what looked like a plane on the seabed.
Retired United States airline pilot John Cox, who runs his own consultancy, said: “I am now seeing doors and reports of a large section located on the sea floor which are indicators, but not conclusive evidence, that the plane was in one piece when it hit the ocean.
“If the wingtips, nose and tail are found in the same area, then it will be conclusive that the plane was intact upon impact with the water.”
Mr Jacques Astre, president of industry consultancy International Aviation Safety Solution, said: “The fact that the debris field is relatively small would suggest the aircraft broke up upon impact with the sea and not in flight.”
Mr Astre added: “The close proximity of the debris field to its last known location also suggests the aircraft descended fairly quickly.”
10 questions about the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 tragedy
(CNN) — The discovery of debris from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 means investigators have taken a big step toward answering the questions haunting the families of those aboard the doomed plane. What are the key questions, and what might come next?
What caused the plane to crash?
The key to understanding what happened is likely to be contained in the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, commonly known as black boxes.
How will search crews retrieve bodies?
Helicopters can lower divers to help recover bodies and debris from the surface of the water. Surface vessels may also play a role, as may submersibles if bodies are trapped in wreckage below the surface.
How will they be identified?
Hospitals in the Indonesian city of Surabaya are being prepared to help house and identify bodies recovered off the coast of Borneo.
To help them, heartbroken relatives have already been asked to bring along photographs of their loved ones and to provide DNA samples.
A recovered body wasn’t wearing a life jacket. What could that indicate?
Goelz said that could mean that whatever happened to the plane, it happened quickly. It’s possible that passengers didn’t have time to act..
Could any of the passengers have survived?
…finding anyone alive from Flight 8501 would be an incredibly unlikely scenario.
A searcher said he could see the shadow of a plane through the water. If that’s true, what then?
If that claim is true, searchers will be able to more quickly recover its flight data recorder, Schiavo said.
How will they find and retrieve the wreckage?
The debris was found in the Karimata Strait, about 110 nautical miles southwest of the Indonesian city of Pangkalan Bun, AirAsia said. That’s just 6 miles from the plane’s last known point of contact.
But first, the site must be mapped because the location of the separate pieces is an important part of figuring out what happened, Taylor said.
What does the debris found so far indicate?
The sight of an emergency exit door floating free on the water, as well as some life jackets, may raise questions about whether the crew had time to deploy safety equipment before the plane hit the water. But Schiavo said she has seen other crash sites where the emergency exit door or chutes had popped out without being deliberately deployed.
Flight 8501 took off two hours ahead of schedule. Is that something investigators will consider?
Schiavo said they will take that into account. A plane leaving before its scheduled departure time is unheard of in the United States, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t common practice in other countries, she noted.
“The question I would have is why,” she said. “Were they trying to beat the weather?”