The AirAsia Plane Was Climbing At Fighter Jet Speeds Just Minutes Before It Crashed

Indonesian authorities map out search and recovery operations. Photo: Getty Images

The AirAsia flight which crashed into the Java Sea late last month climbed at a rate which would be considered “rare even for a fighter jet”.

Indonesia’s transport minister, Ignasius Jonan, told reporters that “in the final minutes [before the crash], the plane climbed at a speed which was beyond normal”.

“The plane suddenly went up at a speed above the normal limit that it was able to climb to. Then it stalled.”

At one point the Airbus A320-200 appeared to be climbing at a rate of 1,800 metres a minute.

“I think it is rare even for a fighter jet to be able to climb 6000 feet (1800 metres) per minute,” he said. “For a commercial flight, climbing around 1000 to 2000 (feet, 305 to 610 metres) is maybe already considered extraordinary, because it is not meant to climb that fast.”

Investigation reports revealed that the pilot had requested to increase altitude to avoid the storm. However, due to heavy air traffic in the immediate airspace he was not immediately granted permission.

Flight QZ8501, carrying 162 people and travelling from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, lost contact with air traffic control on the morning of December 28.

Following analysis of the cockpit voice recorder, investigators said they were focusing on the possibility of human error or aircraft problems as reasons for the crash.

Earlier this month, meteorological experts released a report based on available weather analysis which indicated icing, caused by the formation of tiny ice crystals on the plane’s engine, may have been a likely cause of the crash.

Bodies of some of the passengers have been recovered, while the aircraft’s two black box flight recorders have been retrieved, as well as the cockpit voice recorder and debris pulled from the water of the crash site.

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