Poor pilot training to blame for AirAsia crash
THE probe into what sent AirAsia flight QZ8501 plunging into the Java Sea last year, killing all 162 people on board, has pointed the finger at poor pilot training on how to cope with emergencies.
The final report from Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) said an existing fault in the system that controlled the Airbus A320-200's rudder had set off a chain of events that caused the crash.
But it was the pilot's decision to reset the system, which turned off the plane's autopilot, and inexperience in flying in such difficult conditions that then sent the aircraft into a sharp roll from which it never recovered.
The resetting of the system is not usually done during flight but the captain may have been influenced to try after witnessing ground crew do it on the same plane three days earlier, the report said.
To do so he would have had to leave his seat, it said, adding weight to the theory that the captain was not at the controls when the plane began to lose control.
Flown manually by the French co-pilot with the autopilot system turned off, the plane reared higher and entered a stall, a state in which it lost lift.
NTSC investigators said they had asked Indonesia AirAsia and Airbus to take steps to prevent pilots "improvising" fixes to problems, Reuters reported.
The Malaysia-based AirAsia said it had already upgraded pilot training and enhanced safety standards following the crash.
Jean-Paul Troadec, former head of France's aviation authority, the BEA, which governs France-based Airbus, told Agence France-Presse that AirAsia had not followed the agency's rules on training.
"It's all in the manual," said Gerry Soejatman, an aviation consultant with Jakarta-based consultancy CommunicAvia, believing the pilots were not aware of the right steps.
AirAsia was again in the limelight yesterday as speculation swirled on why 13 of its pilots had reported sick on the same day.
The postponement or cancellation of some AirAsia flights yesterday from the low-cost terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport left hundreds of passengers stranded, reported news website Malaysiakini.
Speaking to the New Straits Times, AirAsia founder and chief executive officer Tony Fernandes said there was a flu epidemic in the company and some pilots were hospitalised.
A spokesman for the airline later said 13 pilots claimed they were not fit to fly.
"All those passengers affected have been informed accordingly and assistance is being provided. AirAsia sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused," the company said in a statement.
Internal sources, however, said it was actually a plan by the pilots to show dissatisfaction with AirAsia's management, reported Malaysiakini.
According to the sources, many of the airline's pilots were unhappy about working conditions, especially the tight flight schedules and salary.