AirAsia victim with life jacket raises questions about plane’s last moments

Dec

31

2014

PANGKALAN BUN/SURABAYA, Indonesia (Reuters) – A body recovered on Wednesday from the crashed AirAsia plane was wearing a life jacket, an Indonesian search and rescue official said, raising new questions about how the disaster unfolded.

Rescuers believe they have found the plane on the ocean floor off Borneo, after sonar detected a large, dark object beneath waters near where debris and bodies were found on the surface.

Ships and planes had been scouring the Java Sea for Flight QZ8501 since Sunday, when it lost contact during bad weather about 40 minutes into its flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

Seven bodies have been recovered from the sea, some fully clothed, which could indicate the Airbus A320-200 was intact when it hit the water. That would support a theory that it suffered an aerodynamic stall.

The fact that one person put on a life jacket suggests those on board had time before the aircraft hit the water, or before it sank.

And yet the pilots did not issue a distress signal. The plane disappeared after it asked for permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather.

“This morning, we recovered a total of four bodies and one of them was wearing a life jacket,” Tatang Zaenudin, an official with the search and rescue agency, told Reuters.

He declined to speculate on what the find might mean.

A pilot who works for a Gulf carrier said the life jacket indicated the cause of the crash was not “catastrophic failure”. Instead, the plane could have stalled and then come down, possibly because its instruments iced up and gave the pilots inaccurate readings.

“There was time. It means the thing didn’t just fall out of the sky,” said the pilot, who declined to be identified.

He said it could take a minute for a plane to come down from 30,000 feet and the pilots could have experienced “tunnel vision … too overloaded” to send a distress call.

In: News Asked By: [475 Blue Star Level]

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