AirAsia Flight 8501 - What We’ve Learned This Week

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January 29, 2015

Indonesian Investigators: Preliminary Report on AirAsia 8501 Not Available to the Public
When Indonesian officials made the announcement last week that a preliminary report on the AirAsia Flight 8501 crash would soon be released, it came with one caveat: The general public will not be given access to the full report. Tatang Kurniadi, chairman of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee told reporters that the preliminary report would only be made available to countries involved in the crash. Kurniadi added that no comment or analysis would be offered by NTSC.

French Co-Pilot at Controls Before Crash
NTSC lead investigator Mardjono Siswosuwarno told the media today that French co-pilot Remi Plesel was at the controls just before the airliner crashed into the Java Sea. "He was flying the plane," Siswosuwarno said, adding that 53-year-old Captain Iriyanto was monitoring. As expected, Indonesia's NTSC released their preliminary report, but did not make very much information available to the public.

According to Siswosuwarno the flight data recorder has given investigators a fairly good idea of what happened in the moments leading up to the December 28, 2014 crash. Earlier reports from Indonesian officials indicate that the Airbus A320 went into a steep climb from its cruising altitude before it stalled, or lost lift.

A warning with an automated voice saying "stall, stall" would have been heard in the cockpit as the plane began to fall toward the ocean. Once in the stall, it is believed that Captain Iriyanto, the veteran pilot with more than 20,000 hours of flying experience, took over the controls. According to flight data, the plane remained in a stall until seconds before impact.

Parallels With Air France Flight 447?
Reports of parallels between QZ8501 and AF447 have continued to materialize after Indonesian weather officials said tropical storms were likely a contributor to the crash. In the AF447 crash, icing on the airframe resulted in pilots losing air speed readings, and the flight crew's reaction to the air speed sent the plane into a stall they weren't able to recover from. Sources familiar with the investigation told Reuters that icing does not seem to be a factor in the QZ8501 crash.

70 Bodies Found Thus Far
A multinational search effort has found the bodies of 70 victims in the Java Sea. Officials hope to find many more when they are able to excavate the plane's fuselage. Presumably, many of the remaining victims are still strapped to their seats at the bottom of the sea. Bad weather conditions and poor underwater visibility have thus far hampered search teams from reaching the seafloor.