Sunday, 4 January 2015

AirAsia QZ8501: Plane crash blamed on weather

Bodies of the victims are being flown back to Surabaya after being recovered from the Java Sea

Bad weather was the biggest factor in the crash of AirAsia flight QZ8501, the Indonesian weather agency believes.

The BMKG agency said initial analysis suggested icy conditions in the air had caused the engine to stall.

The Airbus A320 vanished with 162 people aboard en route from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore last Sunday.

The discovery of four large objects believed to be plane debris has raised hopes of finding the fuselage, where most bodies are believed to be trapped.

Just 30 bodies had been recovered from the Java Sea as of Saturday morning.

The plane's black boxes, its flight data and cockpit voice recorders, have yet to be located.

BMKG found conditions at the time of the plane's disappearance suggested it had probably flown into a storm and experienced extremely icy conditions.

"From our data it looks like the last location of the plane had very bad weather and it was the biggest factor behind the crash," said Edvin Aldrian, head of research at BMKG.

"These icy conditions can stall the engines of the plane and freeze and damage the planes machinery," he added.

Officials have said the plane was travelling at 32,000ft when the pilot's last communication was a request to climb to 38,000ft to avoid bad weather.

Meiji Thejakusuma is one of the few victims to have been positively identified 

 The mother of victim Hendra Gunawan Syawal prayed by her son's coffin in Surabaya

The search teams have recovered 30 bodies from the Java Sea despite tough weather conditions

Victims in body bags were hoisted aboard a warship

Russian search teams arrived aboard a Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft

Hampered search

Earlier, search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said four large objects as well as oil slicks had been detected by sonar from an Indonesian navy ship.

The biggest of the objects was 18m (59ft) long, he said, and he believed they were parts of the plane.

According to the Associated Press news agency, he also gave the width of the largest object found, saying it was 5.4m. Another part was said to be 10m long.

Mr Soelistyo said an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) was being lowered into the water to get an actual picture of the objects, which were at a depth of 30m.

He warned the height of waves was hampering the search effort at sea. The waves were four to five metres high, he said.

Captain John Noble, a marine salvage consultant, told the BBC that the fact the crashed jet appeared to be in about 30m would help search teams.

"It is very dive-able," he told the News Channel. "It is easy to get equipment down there. There are problems with currents and visibility but compared to the [missing Malaysia Airlines Flight] MH-370, we are talking about just a little depth."

AirAsia 8501 flight path and search area

A flotilla of ships, including two from the US navy, are converging on the site where the objects were located and preparing to put divers into the water.

A Russian search team, including 22 divers and a remotely operated submersible vessel, is expected to join the hunt for the black boxes after arriving in Pangkalan Bun on Saturday.

"Among the members of our team, there are 22 deep water divers," said a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Jakarta, Alexander Shilin. "All of them are brilliant experts. Maybe the best in the world."

No permit to fly

It has emerged that AirAsia did not have official permission to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on the day of the crash but was licensed on four other days of the week.

The Indonesian authorities have suspended the company's flights on this route with immediate effect pending an investigation. AirAsia said it would "fully co-operate" with the inquiry.

There were 137 adult passengers, 17 children and one infant, along with two pilots and five crew, on the plane - the majority Indonesian.

Four people have been identified so far: Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, Grayson Herbert Linaksita, Kevin Alexander Soetjipto and Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi. Two other bodies are said to have been identified but details have not yet been released.

AirAsia previously had an excellent safety record, with no fatal accidents involving its aircraft.

Black box flight recorder

source : BBC News.

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