Crashed AirAsia plane had “climbed too fast”

Pilot resorted to drastic measures to avoid storm

The AirAsia plane that crashed on 28 December while flying from Surabaya to Singapore, killing 162 people, climbed too fast and then stalled, Indonesia’s transport minister says. Flight QZ8501 ascended at a speed of 6,000ft per minute in an effort to avoid a sudden storm, a parliamentary hearing in Jakarta heard.

“The plane, during the last minutes, went up faster than normal speed […] then it stalled. I think it is rare even for a fighter jet to be able to climb 6,000ft per minute,” the minister, Ignasius Jonan, said. “The average speed of a commercial aircraft is probably between 1,000 and 2,000ft per minute because the aircraft is not designed to soar so fast.”

All passengers and crew on board were killed when the Airbus A320-200 crashed into the Java Sea. Part of the fuselage was recently recovered, but only 53 bodies have been retrieved so far and some of these are still being identified.

Planes can stall during a long climb as not enough air passes over the wings to generate lift.

Almost halfway into the two-hour flight the pilot asked air traffic control to climb to 38,000ft from 32,000ft to avoid large storm clouds. Permission was not given as there was heavy air traffic in the area. A preliminary report on the accident is due on January 28.


[photo by Mehdi Nazarinia; GNU license]