Alarms 'screaming' in black box recording
WARNING alarms on board AirAsia Flight QZ8501 were "screaming" as the pilots desperately tried to stabilise the plane just before it plunged into the Java Sea last month, a crash investigator said yesterday.
Several alarms - including one that indicated the plane was stalling - can be heard going off in recordings from the black box in the Airbus A320-200's cockpit, the investigator told AFP, requesting anonymity.
"The warning alarms, we can say, were screaming, while in the background they (the pilot and co-pilot) were busy trying to recover," the investigator said, adding that the warnings had continued "for some time".
The investigator, from Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC), added that the pilots' voices were drowned out by the sound of the alarms.
The revelation came a day after Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said that the plane had climbed abnormally fast before stalling and plunging into the sea on Dec 28. The jet was flying in stormy weather from Surabaya to Singapore.
"In the final minutes, the plane climbed at a speed which was beyond normal," the minister told reporters.
He said radar data showed that the plane appeared at one point to be climbing at a rate of 6,000ft (1,800m) a minute before the crash.
"I think it is rare even for a fighter jet to be able to climb 6,000ft per minute," he said.
"For a commercial flight, climbing around 1,000 to 2,000 is maybe already considered extraordinary, because it is not meant to climb that fast."
The plane crashed in shallow water with 162 people on board, but just 53 bodies have been recovered so far.
Divers have been struggling for a week against rough seas to reach the plane's main body, which is thought to contain the bulk of the remaining passengers and crew.
The two black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder - were recovered last week after a lengthy search, and investigators are expected to complete a preliminary report next week.
As well as the cockpit voice recorder, the NTSC is examining a wealth of information in the flight data recorder, which monitors every major part of the plane. They are focusing on the possibility of human or aircraft error, after ruling out terrorism following an analysis of the cockpit voice recorder.
Committee head Tatang Kurniadi said that the preliminary report on the crash would be completed on Tuesday, a month after the accident.
He said the full report would not be released publicly, but the media would be told some of its contents.