Investigators step up hunt for crashed AirAsia jet’s black boxes

2 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AirAsia Flight QZ8501 may have touched down on water safely: Experts.

The pilot of AirAsia Flight 8501 may have made a successful “Sully Sullenberger” style emergency touchdown in the Java Sea — but high waves sank the aircraft before passengers could escape, experts theorized Thursday. Leaked data on the Airbus jet’s ascent and descent suggests it climbed at up to 9,000ft per minute — three times faster than it should be able to move. The airplane — which crashed in the waters off Indonesia Sunday — failed to emit an emergency transmission signal, which indicates there was a controlled touchdown on the water instead of a catastrophic crash, analysts told Agence France-Presse. “The emergency locator transmitter would work on impact, be that land, sea or the sides of a mountain, and my analysis is it didn’t work because there was no major impact during landing,” said Dudi Sudibyo, a senior editor at the aviation magazine Angkasa.

Experts believe that the absence of any usual crash transmission data means the AirAsia flight QZ8501, on its way from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, could have touched down safely, though the hunt for the black boxes is on. An emergency exit door and inflatable slide were among the debris scattered about 100 miles off the coast of Borneo, which could mean passengers tried to escape after landing. And former air force commander Chappy Hakim said: “The conclusions I have come to so far are that the plane did not blow up mid-air, and it did not suffer an impact when it hit a surface, because if it did so then the bodies would not be intact.” He said: “All I can say is the weather in South East Asia is bad at the moment – the floods in Malaysia, the floods in Thailand, there is a lot of rain.

When Singapore-bound AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 vanished from radar screens, 42 minutes after taking off from Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport on Sunday, there were prayers and tentative hopes. Former Indonesian Transport Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal surmised that the travelers were waiting for a flight attendant to inflate the raft when a powerful wave hit the plane. Flight experts now believe it is possible that experienced former airforce pilot Captain Irianto may have safely landed the plane on water — before it was overcome by high waves and sunk to the bottom of the sea. The district head in Pangkalan Bun, the town in Indonesian Borneo close to where bodies and debris were found, banned music, fireworks and noisy parties out of respect for the dead. “Like everyone else, we were shocked,” said Sunu Widyatmoko, CEO of Indonesia AirAsia. “We never thought that the first findings would be of lost ones.

We thought we were going to find survivors.” Seven bodies in total were recovered as of Wednesday night, one of which has been identified as a female, Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, according to Budiyono, chairman of the East Java police’s victim-identification team, who spoke to waiting media. At the airport on Wednesday evening, officials announced that the crisis center, where family members have been gathering, would be moved to the nearby hospital were incoming bodies will be sent for identification. At a press conference, AirAsia representatives also sought to clear up speculation and rumors that had surfaced since the plane disappeared from radar on Sunday. AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said on Wednesday that the plane’s main fuselage had not been located by sonar, nor had a body wearing a life jacket been recovered, despite these being widely reported. “There’s lots of rumors going around and, until we have official confirmation, what we’ve heard is all speculation,” Fernandes told reporters. “There is no sonar, nothing. Dwi Prasetyo Yudo and his wife had traveled to the center at the beginning of the week from their nearby hometown of Malang to show support for their family friend of more than two decades, who lost his daughter on the flight.

Local media reported that as many as 35 of the dead were from Malang, including a party of alumni from a Catholic high school traveling with their families. Dwi said his prayers on New Year’s Eve would be dedicated to “peace in Indonesia.” Across Surabaya, vigils were held at places of worship to remember the passengers, most of whom were Indonesians of Chinese ethnicity, many of them Christian. At Gereja Kristen Indonesia (the Indonesian Christian Church), where Roni is a minister, dozens of mourners squeezed into wooden pews in their humble chapel for a special commemoration service, where they sang Presbyterian hymns, recited the Apostle’s Creed and lit candles in unison.

The mother, father and son were aboard Flight QZ 8501; their teenage daughter is now an orphan. “Caring for others is number one for our lives,” she said. “The tragedy of Air Asia reminds us that we don’t know at what time we will die, so we must make our lives about caring for others and make people happy and full of joy.” Surabaya resident Yuska Sahertian was among the dozens who attended the evening’s service. Only hours before the service, Pastor Deddy Sutjahjo sat in the empty church and scrolled through Flight QZ 8501’s manifest, pausing to explain how he knew this passenger or who in the church was related to another, as he dabbed the tears from his eyes with a handkerchief and bit his quivering lip.

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