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Untrained AirAsia pilots takes blame for 162 passenger deaths (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES)

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'Our recommendation to AirAsia is to train their pilots flying the Airbus plane on how to make an upset recovery.'

A technical malfunction paired with pilot-error on an AirAsia flight bound for Singapore led to a crash-landing in the Java Sea and the deaths of 162 people on board.

Highlights

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
12/1/2015 (4 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: AirAsia, pilot, Java Sea, Flight 8501, Utomo, report, Quest, NTST

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - AirAsia Flight 8501 was travelling from Indonesia to Singapore on December 28 last year, when the system designed to regulate the plane's rudder malfunctioned due to a cracked solder joint. 

Indonesia's National Transport Safety Committee reported maintenance records for the airbus show the system experienced 23 malfunctions last year, with shorter and shorter intervals between incidents within three months before the deadly crash.

The report said, "Subsequent flight crew action resulted in inability to control the aircraft ... causing the aircraft to depart from the normal flight envelope and enter a prolonged stall condition that was beyond the capability of the flight crew to recover."

CNN's aviation correspondent Richard Quest clarified, saying, "it's a series of technical failures, but it's the pilot response that leads to the plane crashing."

Australian, French, Sinaporean and Malaysian authorities worked together to investigate the crash. Investigator Nurcahyo Utomo said, "Our recommendation to AirAsia is to train their pilots flying the Airbus plane on how to make an upset recovery."

The pilots of Flight 8501 had not been trained to handle upsets, as the manual provided by the plane's manufacturer claimed an Airbus 320 was designed to prevent it from becoming upset, and therefore recovery training was unnecessary.

Utomo reported AirAsia's requirement for upset recovery training since the incident. Utomo also reported the cockpit voice recorder indicated confusing instructions from the captain to the co-pilot, who was operating the controls.

"The most interesting part that could be heard from the CVR is that whenever the plane went up, the captain said 'pull down.' ... To go down, the captain has to say 'push,' while to go up, the captain has to say 'pull' in reference to moving the side stick handle," Utomo reported.

In response to the report, Quest said, "A huge amount of training is done on takeoff and landing and traditionally, of course, is 70-80% (of when accidents take place); only 10% takes (place) in the cruise phase of the flight. but if something does happen in the cruise phase of flight, it does typically end up fatal."

 Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTST), reported that at about 35 minutes into the two-hour flight, the pilot asked air traffic control for permission to ascend to a higher altitude to avoid stormy weather.

It was then that the plane went from 32,000-feet to 37,000 within thirty seconds, which commercial planes are not designed to do.

One analyst told CNN the plane may have been climbing twice as quickly as it should have. Minutes after reaching 37,000 feet, the plane disappeared from radar.

Though the weather patterns caused quite a bit of turbulence, seven other planes flying in the vicinity were able to land safely and it was reported that AirAsia did not have clearance to fly the intended route that day.

Indonesia's NTSC has since issued recommendations to AirAsia and Airbus, as well as Indonesian, U.S. and European aviation regulatory committees, though exactly what those recommendations are have yet to be revealed.

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