The curious case of Air Asia QZ8501 Flight's unbelievable climb

January 3, 2015 11:19 AM |

Various aviation experts have opined on the slightly abnormal behaviour of Air Asia Flight QZ8501, just before it crashed into the Java Sea. Indonesian aviation analysts feel that it climbed as fast as a fighter jet and then dropped from the sky like a stone.

What made the matter worse was the presence of severe thunderstorms with tops reaching up to 50,000 feet. The pilot had to seek permission to climb to 38,000 feet from 32,000 feet due to weather conditions but he was denied as there was ‘no room’.  However, few minutes later the ATC decided to permit him to climb to 34,000 feet. but there was no response from the other side. Probably, in those few minutes, the ill-fated plane had already reached its watery grave.

The Indonesian Expert, Mr. Gerry Soejatman believes that the hapless plane was caught in severe up and downdrafts inside a thunderstorm. These drafts can cause a plane to go up or down by 2000-3000 feet/minute. But the flight in question, climbed at an astounding rate of 6000-9000 feet/minute. Data leaked indicated that the aircraft was climbing at an astounding rate. It also appears that the flight then fell at the rate of 11,000 feet/minute with bursts up to 24,000 feet/minute. This is in stark contrast to normal rate of climb of 1000-1500 feet/minute to 3000 feet/minute in bursts. He also believes that at that altitude this is beyond the capability of Airbus 320. He said that it was already hard to comprehend the behaviour of the plane, as it was bordering on the edge of logic.

On the other hand, Sydney Morning Herald quoted aviation expert Peter Marosszeky from the University of New South Wales, as saying that extremely low speed of descent, i.e. as low as 61 knots, suggested that the plane headed virtually straight down. This is substantiated by the fact that the plane was found just 10 km away from its last point of contact. He also said felt that a climb rate of 600 feet/minute or more was in the domain of jet-fighters and not in A320s, which indicated “severe weather event” in that area.

AirAsiaThe mirror quoted Dudi Subayo, editor of Aviataion Magazine Angkasa, that the plane was overwhelmed. He based his claim on the theory that a heavy impact would have set off emergency locater transmitters on board, which was not the case.

Earlier, Chief Executive of AisAsia Tony Fernandes opined that the Airbus had encountered some ‘very unique weather’ and even suggested that climate change was making flights more accident prone, especially in the tropical region.

However, all this is a matter of conjecture and truth will not be known unless the black box (flight recorder) is found and data is analysed. Though the French Crash Investigation team has arrived with acoustic detection and SONAR but bad weather and rough sea conditions are making their task of searching extremely difficult. Group Captain (Dr.) R.M Saxena, Expert Aviation Meteorology believes that until the mystery is unravelled, the aircraft’s unbelievably steep climb and subsequent stall seem to be the most probable cause of AirAsia’s crash.


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