Whatever happened to AirAsia QZ8501?


Indonesian AirNav radar screenshot (Image source: Aviation Herald)

So what did happen?

This post is part of the Airbus aircraft family and system safety thread

While the media ‘knows’ that the aircraft climbed steeply before rapidly descending, we should remember that this supposition relies on the self reported altitude and speed of the aircraft. So we should be cautious about presuming that what we see on a radar screen is actually what happened to the aircraft. There are of course also disturbing similarities to the circumstances in which Air France AF447 was lost, yet at this moment all they are are similarities. One things for sure though, there’ll be little sleep in Toulouse until the FDRs are recovered.

4 responses to Whatever happened to AirAsia QZ8501?



    Do you have the same cautions re AF447? Garbage in, garbage out? Were the altitudes derived from the inertials? Statics? Both?
    Do you trust the 7000 fpm ROC? How in the world did 447 get to 7000 fpm? She “coasted higher after Stall?” Explain?

    Pitch was in gee rate Law, limited to “rated” Vertical speeds? Is Overspeed PROT absolutely eliminated? Uncommanded ROC?



      Matthew Squair 14/01/2015 at 11:57 am

      At the moment there’s simply not enough information to meaningfully speculate on AirAsia 8501, other than to say that I’d be unsurprised if we find that the aircraft was in alternate law when it crashed.



    Which suggests Loss of Control, after Jet Upset? Most speculation based on debris mapping and damage centers around inflight disintegration. Too soon to say? Absolutely.



    What an unfortunate word. The best work of skilled professionals called…..debris.

    At this point, the aircraft’s purpose is solely to disclose what went so terribly wrong. 

    I think the discussion, even after the report, will last a very long while.

    At that, the hard evidence will likely merely support the words we hear on the CVR, and the data of the DFDR.

    This picture:


    Shows the flight deck of 8501.

    One can see the instrument panel at the glare shield position. Left of the main wreckage appears to be the fuselage at the Captain’s side (port). Its shape fits the area along the line that contains the Portside windscreen. It also shows where the aft most left side glass would be. I see the pilot’s seat, co-pilot’s chair, and what looks like parts of frame for the jump seats.

    One can see a wrecked pedestal protruding up and towards the RHS. The clearest part is the instrument panel, the “holes” are square, where the larger instruments were placed. At first I thought it to be a portion of fuse frame, with it’s lightening holes showing.

    But I see an instrument panel, not a frame. Obviously the photographer/diver thought this piece to be important. I agree.