Reports: Sonar locates wreckage of AirAsia Flight 8501

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Additional Bodies Recovered From AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 Crash.

SURABAYA, Indonesia — The first proof of the fate of AirAsia Flight 8501 emerged Tuesday from the shallow waters of the Java Sea, confirming that the plane crashed with 162 people aboard in an area not far from where it dropped off radar screens. But it remained unknown what caused the plane to plunge into the sea Sunday, less than an hour after leaving Surabaya for Singapore. “I am so very sorry for this accident,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said before meeting with families of passengers in Surabaya. “I hope families can stay strong while facing tragedy.” Throughout the afternoon, Indonesian authorities built up an inventory of debris collected by ships and helicopters from the sea surface, including life vests, aircraft parts and a small blue suitcase. Authorities are hopeful that sonar technology will reveal the wreckage location. “We are expecting extra vessels – hopefully they will enter the area today,” Soelistyo said, speaking at a press conference. “They have tools to search objects under water. Investigators were turning their attention Wednesday to the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, which will provide clues to what happened during the six minutes between the time the pilot of the Airbus A320-216 last made contact with air traffic control and when the jet dropped off of the radar.

Search and rescue officials said that three items in particular — the suitcase and parts they identified as an aspirator assembly and a reservoir slide craft — helped them determine that the debris came from Flight 8501. They will be the leading forces to be able to find a majority of the parts of the plane.” Debris and bodies from the crash were located Tuesday, two days after the plane went missing.

The black boxes can reveal how fast the plane was going before crashing, its altitude, the status of its systems and what the pilots’ final words were. Search crews are focusing Wednesday on a concentrated area – with 17 helicopters and nine fix-wing planes prepared to participate in search efforts.

Investigators will use this information to reconstruct a timeline of what happened and why. “They want to find out as quickly as they can if this is a mechanical flaw or an issue of a pilot error,” Scott Brenner, a former Federal Aviation Administration official, told Luca Centurioni, a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego who measures currents around the world, said it would not be surprising for the floating debris to have drifted 60 miles since Sunday morning, especially in unsettled weather. He said the French were likely to lead an investigation, because they’d want to fix any mechanical issue immediately in case flaws need to be addressed in any of the other French-made Airbuses that are still in use today. Search teams also spotted what they said might be a larger submerged piece of the fuselage of the aircraft, an Airbus A320-200 operated by an Indonesian affiliate of AirAsia. Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, told The Associated Press that if the plane came down relatively intact, the wreckage would show signs of compression.

However, if the metal were torn to pieces, Goelz added, that’s a sign of a breakup at altitude, similar to what was seen during the crash of TWA Flight 800, which exploded over the Atlantic Ocean in 1996 after takeoff. They sought permission to climb above threatening clouds but were denied because of heavy air traffic. “My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501,” Tony Fernandes, the head of AirAsia, wrote in a Twitter message soon after the debris was found. “On behalf of AirAsia my condolences to all. Words cannot express how sorry I am.” Fernandes said later that he did not want to speculate about the cause of the disaster until the plane’s flight recorders were recovered and analyzed, though he said that “bad weather is the short-term conclusion — weather in Southeast Asia is bad now.” “I know the plane has crashed, but I cannot believe my brother and his family are dead,” said Ifan Joko, who lost seven family members, three of them children, as they traveled to Singapore to ring in the new year. “We still pray they are alive.” “From the start, we already knew the risks associated with being a stewardess,” Fauzie said. “She is beautiful and smart. We couldn’t have stopped her.” About 125 family members were planning to travel Wednesday to Pangkalan Bun, a town in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province, on the island of Borneo, to start identifying their loved ones. Whether the bodies were found clothed or not might provide valuable evidence as well, he said, because if a person is ejected mid-air at 500 miles per hour, the force would rip off their clothing immediately.

So far, however, the bodies that have been found didn’t have life jackets on, a sign that there was no attempt to make a controlled ditching, Paul Hayes, safety director at London-based aviation consulting company Ascend Worldwide, told the Miami Herald. Leaders of Bethany, a large church in a wealthy neighborhood on the outskirts of Surabaya, pored over the plane’s manifest when it was released on Sunday and determined that at least five passengers were members of families who attend the church.

Deddy, a church pastor, said the crash was a tragedy for all of Indonesia. “We can guess from the names that many are Christian and Chinese,” he said. If passengers from the AirAsia plane and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the jet that disappeared in March, are included in the calculations, 1,320 people died in air accidents in 2014, the deadliest year since 2005, according to the Bureau of Aircraft Incidents Archives, which tracks aviation accidents. A Chinese frigate also was on the way, while Singapore said it was sending two underwater beacon detectors to try to detect pings from the plane’s all-important cockpit voice and flight data recorders.

Brenner also suggested that wind sheer could have pushed the airplane down to the point where the plane’s pilots couldn’t recover, and he didn’t rule out the possibility that pilot error or inexperience may have played a part.

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