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AirAsia Flight QZ8501


According to Indonesian officials, a faulty component was a “major factor” when an AirAsia plane crashed into the Java Sea in December 2014, killing 162 people.

The first major report into the crash found that actions by the crew in response to the malfunction also contributed to the disaster.

The Airbus A320-200, going from Surabaya to Singapore, was 40 minutes into the flight when contact was lost.

The report is the result of a year-long investigation.

Investigators had initially indicated that bad weather was a major factor in the crash.

However, the new report has found that the soldering on a tiny electronic part in the system that controlled the rudder was cracked, causing it to send four warning signals to the pilots.

Photo AP

Photo AP

The crew tried to fix the problem by resetting the computer, but this disabled the autopilot. They then lost control of the plane.

The AirAsia plane then entered “a prolonged stall condition that was beyond the capability of the flight crew to recover,” said Indonesia’s national transport safety committee.

Maintenance crews were aware of the problem as it had occurred 23 times in 2014, and resetting the system was one of several methods used previously to address it, the report said.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes thanked investigators on Twitter and added that “there is much to be learned here for AirAsia, the manufacturer and the aviation industry”.

“We will not leave any stone unturned to make sure the industry learns from this tragic incident.”

The plane’s wreckage was found days after the crash at the bottom of the Java Sea near Borneo.

Most of the passengers were Indonesian, and others on board included a Frenchman, a Singaporean, a Malaysian, a Briton, and three South Koreans.

Only 106 bodies have been retrieved so far.

The AirAsia crash capped a year of major air disasters including the disappearance of MH370 and the shooting of MH17- both flights operated by Malaysia Airlines.

According to Indonesian investigators, the co-pilot of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, French national Remi Plesel, was controlling the plane before it crashed.

Authorities said this information came from the flight data recorder, which was retrieved along with the cockpit voice recorder earlier this month.

The plane was carrying 162 people from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore when it crashed into the Java Sea on December 28.

Only 70 bodies have been recovered.

Mardjono Siswosuwarno, head investigator of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSB), said the flight data recorder had provided a “pretty clear picture” of what happened in the flight’s last moments.

Capt. Remi Plesel was in charge from take-off until the cockpit voice recording ends, he said, adding that this was common practice.AirAsia Flight QZ8501 co-pilot Remi Plesel

Investigators said the plane ascended sharply before dropping, rising from 32,000ft to 37,400ft within 30 seconds, then dipping back to 32,000ft. The process took about three minutes.

Mardjono Siswosuwarno said the plane was “flying before the incident within the limits of its weight and balance envelope” and that the flight crew all had correct licenses and medical certificates.

A preliminary report has been submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organization, but has not been made public. The full report is likely to take about seven months, said the committee’s chief Tatang Kurniadi.

Earlier this week, the military announced it was stopping attempts to retrieve the fuselage from the seabed. Authorities had believed earlier that most of the missing bodies were still in the wreckage but now believe it is empty and too fragile to move.

The civilian National Search and Rescue Agency said on January 28 that it would continue search operations but their efforts could also end by next week if no more bodies are found.