AirAsia crash investigation: Airbus A320 plane tragedy caused by fault made worse by crew, shows investigations

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Updated: December 1, 2015 4:20:00 PM

AirAsia crash investigation: Faulty equipment and the crew's "inability to control the aircraft" led an AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Airbus A320 to crash into the Java Sea last year, killing all 162 people onboard, a report said today.

AirAsia, Flight QZ8501, AirAsia black boxAirAsia crash investigation: Part of the tail of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 floats on the surface after being lifted as Indonesian navy divers conduct search operations for the black box flight recorders and passengers and crew of the aircraft, in the Java Sea. (Reuters)

AirAsia crash investigation: Faulty equipment and the crew’s “inability to control the aircraft” led an AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Airbus A320 to crash into the Java Sea last year, killing all 162 people onboard, a report said today.

AirAsia crash was one of several aviation disasters in the sprawling archipelago in the past year, and the first major setback for Malaysia-based AirAsia group and its flamboyant boss Tony Fernandes after a spectacular run of success.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crashed in stormy weather on December 28, during what was supposed to be a short flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

The crash of the Airbus A320-200 AirAsia plane triggered a huge international search, with ships and aircraft from several nations involved in a lengthy hunt that was hampered by strong currents and bad weather. The bodies of 56 victims were never recovered.

In their final report into the AirAsia crash released today, Indonesia’s official National Transportation Safety Committee said a major factor was a fault with a system that helps control the rudder’s movement.

Cracked soldering in the component caused it to malfunction and send repeated warning messages to the AirAsia pilots.

When they received the fourth warning, the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 pilots pulled circuit-breakers on one of the aircraft’s computers, removing power from the faulty system in a bid to reset it. But in doing so, they also turned off the plane’s autopilot.

“Subsequent AirAsia Flight QZ8501 flight crew action resulted in inability to control the aircraft,” said the report. The AirAsia went into a “prolonged stall condition that was beyond the capability of the crew to recover”, it said.

It added the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 data recorders did not indicate the weather had affected the aircraft.

The report said the faulty component, the Rudder Travel Limiter, had suffered 23 problems in the past 12 months, citing maintenance records.

A minister previously described how the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 climbed fast and then went into aerodynamic stall, losing lift, before it went down, while an investigator said the warning alarms were “screaming” as the pilots desperately tried to stabilise the aircraft.

Investigators had also revealed that the French co-pilot, Remi Plesel, was at the controls of the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in the moments before it crashed, rather than the more experienced pilot, Captain Iriyanto, who had around 20,000 hours of flying time.

Rescuers faced difficulties in the choppy waters of the Java Sea, but the main body of the AirAsia crashed plane was eventually located on the seabed by a Singapore navy ship and both black box data recorders were recovered.

Search efforts for the AirAsia crashed aircraft were finally called off in March after almost three months of hunting.

See photos AirAsia Crash:

1. AirAsia search 1

2. AirAsia search 2

Air Asia Flight Missing, Air Asia flight, AirAsia flight QZ8501, AirAsia airasia qz 8501, airasia missing, AirAsia missing plane found, airasia found, air asia missingAirAsia Flight QZ8501: In this image taken from video released by TV One, a rescuer is lowered on rope from a hovering helicopter near a body in Java Sea waters, Indonesia Tuesday. (AP)

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