Posts Tagged ‘QZ8501’

Sorrow – and some relief – as debris and bodies from QZ8501 found

December 30, 2014

It is a tragic accident and 162 people lost their lives. That is an event causing great pain and sorrow. But there will be some closure for the relatives and friends of the victims.

There is also some relief. It is not a complete and mystifying vanishing act as for MH370. There was no conspiracy and the possibility that it was a terrorist act is very low. It was primarily a thunderstorm ( and possibly some pilot or air traffic error) which was responsible. There was no encounter of the third kind. It was not an Asian version of the Bermuda Triangle.


Indonesian rescuers saw bodies and luggage off the coast of Borneo island on Tuesday and officials said they were “95 percent sure” debris spotted in the sea was from a missing AirAsia plane with 162 people on board.

Indonesia AirAsia’s Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with air traffic control early on Sunday during bad weather on a flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

Pictures of floating bodies were broadcast on television and relatives of the missing gathered at the crisis center in Surabaya were shown weeping, their heads in their hands. …..

Online discussion among pilots has centered on unconfirmed secondary radar data from Malaysia that suggested the aircraft was climbing at a speed of 353 knots, about 100 knots too slow, and that it might have stalled. ……

On board Flight QZ8501 were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain. The co-pilot was French.

It seems the pilot was climbing to avoid the thunderstorm and had reached 36,300 feet but may have been flying too slow:

Geoffrey Thomas, an aviation expert and editor of, believes that while climbing to avoid the storm it encountered, the pilots could have induced an aerodynamic stall, similar to how the Air France AF447 crashed in 2009.

On Sunday, Indonesian aviation consultant Gerry Soejatman tweeted out a “leaked” picture of an air traffic control screen showing the QZ8501.

“Leaked photo of ATCscreen on #QZ8501, it ended up at 36300ft and climbing but ground speed only 353 knots! Uh oh!,” he wrote on Twitter.

An Emirates flight on the same screen was flying at a similar altitude but was much faster at 503 knots.

“The QZ8501 was flying too slow, about 100 knots which is about 160km/h too slow. At that altitude, that’s exceedingly dangerous,” Thomas told Australia’s Herald Sun.

QZ8501: All presumed lost but why no wreckage yet?

December 29, 2014

Air Asia’s QZ8501, Airbus A320-200 most probably flew into a violent thunderstorm which it could not or did not avoid and suffered a catastrophic structural failure. This is plausible and pilots avoid violent thunderstorms if at all possible. Flying through a storm is most inadvisable and usually aircraft fly around them. Just this year, this could be the third aircraft (the others were cargo aircraft) to have been lost to a thunderstorm near the equator. But why no wreckage yet?

The pilots had requested permission to increase altitude from 32,000 to 38,000 feet to avoid bad weather but this change was denied by air traffic control presumably because of other traffic on this busy route. The denial is not unusual but the storm may have had a much greater vertical spread than expected. Thunderstorms in the Java Sea can sometimes have plumes (towers) extending up to 50,000 metres feet. In emergencies, commercial pilots are trained to first control the plane, then to navigate and only then to communicate. So the lack of a distress signal – is worrying – but not a reason to rush to conspiracy theories or to invoke magic. It does suggest that whatever happened happened fast. There were 23 no-show passengers booked on the plane but this also does not seem extraordinary for a flight leaving in the early hours.

BBC: He said the captain had more than 20,500 flight hours, almost 7,000 of them with AirAsia. The flight left Surabaya in eastern Java at 05:35 local time (22:35 GMT) and was due to arrive in Singapore at 08:30 (00:30 GMT).

The missing jet had requested a “deviation” from the flight path to avoid thick storm clouds, AirAsia said. Indonesia’s transport ministry said the pilot had asked permission to climb to 38,000ft (11,000m).

Ministry official Djoko Murjatmodjo said the request “could not be approved at that time due to traffic, there was a flight above, and five minutes later [flight QZ8501] disappeared from radar”.


QZ5801 planned route

This morning one of the rescue officials said that the aircraft was probably at the bottom of the sea. But I have difficulty to reconcile a “catastrophic failure” with the absence of any wreckage. The weather is still bad in the most likely location. Perhaps more time is needed. The chance of survival for the 162 people on board is diminishing very fast.

The loss of 162 lives is tragedy enough but the thought of another “vanishing act” like MH370 without any wreckage or any other physical evidence is somehow even more disturbing. Can there be a catastrophic failure without the plane breaking up into smaller pieces where some would surely float? To be “at the bottom of the sea” would surely need that the aircraft went down largely intact or in very large pieces. Then why no “distress call”? Even an implausible lightning strike which disabled all power instantaneously may have caused the plane to descend very fast but it should not have disabled all communication devices.

Only questions about QZ8501 right now. But almost every question about MH370 is still open. The loss of life is deeply tragic. That Malaysian aviation could be singled out to be hit by 3 tragedies in one year is perplexing.  But the idea that the open questions will never be answered is terrifying.


AirAsia Flight QZ8501 goes missing

December 28, 2014

It is a dismal and tragic year for Malaysian aviation. If I were superstitious 2014 would be a cursed year.

After MH30 and MH17, Air Asia’s QZ8501 has gone missing on its way from Surabaya to Singapore. AirAsia is a Malaysian low-cost airline headquartered near Kuala Lumpur.

UPDATE: QZ8501 is believed to have crashed at the location 03.22.46 South and 108.50.07 East, in waters around 80 to 100 nautical miles from Belitung. Not confirmed.


Indonesia’s air force was searching for an AirAsia plane carrying 162 people that went missing on Sunday after the pilots asked to change course to avoid bad weather during a flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, an Airbus 320-200, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 a.m. (6.17 p.m. EST), officials said.

“The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost,” the airline said in a statement.

No distress signal had been sent, said Joko Muryo Atmodjo, air transportation director at Indonesia’s transport ministry. Indonesia AirAsia said there were 155 passengers and seven crew on board. It said 156 were Indonesian, with three from South Korea and one each from Singapore, Malaysia and France.

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