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Air Asia QZ8501 crash was due to continual malfunction, pilot flaws

By Andrew V. Pestano
Air Asia QZ8501 crash was due to continual malfunction, pilot flaws
The cause of the crash of Air Asia Flight QZ8501 was a technical malfunction coupled with the pilots' response to the problem, investigators announced Tuesday. The Airbus A320-200 was traveling from Surabaya, Indonesia, toward Singapore on Dec. 28, 2014, when contact was lost 40 minutes into the flight. The plane crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people aboard. File photo by Sabung.hamster/Wikimedia Commons

JAKARTA, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The cause of the crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 was a technical malfunction coupled with the pilots' response to the problem, investigators announced Tuesday.

The Airbus A320-200 was traveling from Surabaya, Indonesia, toward Singapore on Dec. 28, 2014, when contact was lost 40 minutes into the flight. The plane crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people aboard.

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A report revealed the plane's flight control computer had a cracked solder joint that continuously malfunctioned -- 23 times in 2014 -- and pilots had to regularly reset the system to get it functioning correctly again.

When the crew tried to fix the problem by resetting the computer in December 2014, the autopilot was disabled and the pilots lost control of the plane. The crew could not recover control of the craft after it entered a "prolonged stall condition."

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The plane's wreckage was found at the bottom of the Java Sea near Borneo several days later. Divers have recovered 106 bodies so far.

The nearly year-long investigation was conducted by Australian, French, Singaporean and Malaysian authorities. Investigators said there were weaknesses in pilot training when dealing with upsets or when an aircraft is angled greater than 45 degrees.

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Bad weather was also believed to be a contributing factor into the crash.

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"Our recommendation to AirAsia is to train their pilots flying the Airbus plane on how to make an upset recovery," investigator Nurcahyo Utomo said, adding that AirAsia, based in Malaysia, has required upset recovery for pilots since the crash.

"The most interesting part that could be heard from the CVR [cockpit voice recorder] is that whenever the plane went up the captain said 'pull down,'" Utomo said. "To go down, the captain has to say 'push,' while to go up, the captain has to say 'pull' in reference to moving the side stick handle."

AirAsia's Chief Executive Tony Fernandes thanked investigators for their efforts and said his "heart and deep sorrow goes out to all the families involved in QZ8501."

"These are scars that are left on me forever but I remain committed to make AirAsia the very best. We owe it to the families and my crew," Fernandes said. "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."

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