Pilots broke rules by disengaging circuit-breakers and thus switching off the autopilot on AirAsia flight QZ8501, shortly before the doomed plane dived into the Java Sea last December and killed everyone aboard, an investigation has found.
An official probe into the fateful crash of the A320-200 lays part of the blame on the pilots.
Key points highlighted in the official report include:
- Both crew error and a rudder system problem were responsible;
- The aircraft had the same rudder system problem 23 times in the 12 months before crash;
- There had been a maintenance problem with the aircraft.
AirAsia Indonesia says it has upgraded pilot training and improved safety standards since, ABC News reported yesterday.
Flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea during a short flight from Surabaya to Singapore in December 2014, killing all 162 aboard.
Indonesia’s Transport Safety Bureau has released analysis of the plane’s “black box” flight recorders. They show unresolved repetitive faults with the aircraft, ABC News reported.
Indonesian investigators said a fault with the rudder control system contributed to the crash, though there were other factors at work.
The pilots disengaged the autopilot in stormy weather in a bid to fix the problem – only then to lose control of the plane, Indonesia’s official National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said.
After alarms sounded in the cockpit four times, pilots then disabled the alarms.
“Warning light, sound of ding, ding, ding – it disturbs the pilots. The pilots want to get rid of that disturbance,” chief investigator Mardjono Siswosuwarno said.
This turned off the autopilot, and the plane then started to roll, making it impossible to control, the report said.
The aircraft then plunged into a “prolonged stall condition that was beyond the capability of the crew to recover”.
Flight data recorders did not indicate the weather had affected the aircraft.
“There is much to be learned here for AirAsia, the manufacturer and the aviation industry,” AirAsia parent group founder Tony Fernandes commented on Twitter.
Written by Peter Needham