AirAsia flight QZ8501 'climbed too fast'

  • 20 January 2015
  • From the section Asia
Investigators examine the tail of AirAsia flight QZ8501 in Kumai, 12 January Image copyright AFP
Image caption Investigators examining the tail of AirAsia flight QZ8501

The AirAsia flight that crashed in the Java Sea, killing 162 people, climbed too fast before stalling, Indonesia's transport minister has said.

Ignasius Jonan told a parliamentary hearing in Jakarta that flight QZ8501 had ascended at a speed of 6,000ft (1,828m) per minute.

He said it was not normal for a passenger jet to climb so fast.

There were no survivors when the plane crashed on 28 December en route from Surabaya to Singapore.

The Airbus A320-200 is thought to have encountered difficulties from an approaching storm.

Only 53 bodies have been retrieved so far from the crash area, where debris was scattered across the sea.

Fuselage located

Mr Jonan told the hearing that radar data from the moments before the plane was lost revealed its speed of ascent.

"It is not normal to climb like that. It's very rare for commercial planes, which normally climb just 1,000 to 2,000 feet per minute," he said.

"It can only be done by a fighter jet."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Bodies are still being identified
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Part of the fuselage has been recovered

When planes stall, their engines do not cut out but the wings no longer generate lift because there is not enough air passing over them, BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott says.

This normally happens when the nose is pointing upwards for too long during a climb.

Mr Jonan's comments come after the plane's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were found last week.

The fuselage of the plane, believed to hold most of the remaining bodies, has also been located and search teams are now working out how to retrieve it.

Investigators have already said it is unlikely the crash was caused by terrorism.

Mr Jonan also proposed changes to improve aviation safety standards, Reuters news agency reports.

His ministry would recommend pay rises for maintenance crews and safety inspection officials, he was quoted as saying.

Applications for route permits and air transport licences would be moved online in February, he added.

The minister said a number of new rules regarding permits and safety, including health checks for flight crews and air traffic controllers, had already been implemented.

"It is a habit among airlines that they sometimes sell tickets before they have obtained a route permit," he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"Now route permits must be obtained four months before the flight and airlines will not be allowed to sell tickets before that."

Request denied

The jet took off from Surabaya at 05:35 local time (22:35 GMT 27 December).

Shortly before it vanished, nearly halfway into the two-hour flight, its pilot contacted air traffic control to request permission to climb to 38,000ft from 32,000ft to avoid big storm clouds - a common occurrence in the area.

But heavy air traffic in the area meant he was not given permission to do so straight away.

When air traffic control tried to contact the plane again, there was no answer. The plane disappeared from radar screens shortly afterwards. It did not issue a distress signal.

A preliminary report on the crash is expected on 28 January.

Correction 21 January 2015: A quote from Ignasius Jonan has been replaced to better represent the remarks he made in the parliamentary hearing.

Related Topics