Third Asian flight goes of the radar this year. We know the previous ones were caught in a foul play concocted probably by certain western intelligence agencies (Flight 370 and Flight 17). Is this the case here? Too early to tell. Anyway, a picture circulating in online forums of an air traffic control screen shows the AirAsia flight traveling at an altitude of 36,300 feet – and climbing – but with a ground speed of only 353 knots, well below normal. The same image shows a nearby Emirates Airline jet traveling at 36,000 feet at a speed of 503 knots. Stay tuned.
As rescuers prepare to resume the hunt for QZ8501 with first light, aviation experts look at what might have happened to the AirAsia flight.
Hit By Storms:
The pilot had requested to increase flying height before the plane disappeared from radar to avoid bad weather.
According to aviation expert Captain Mike Vivian storms can tower thousands of feet high and the thunder clouds can cause serious damage to aircraft.
However, the weather conditions are not uncommon in the area and pilots are expert at navigating them.
Mr Vivian said it was unlikely that a sudden weather event caused the plane to go missing.
Stalled By Ice:
The plane could have flown into icy conditions which may have caused it to stall and “drop out of the sky”, according to pilot Ray Karam Singh, who is familiar with the route over the Java Sea.
He said the pilot of the QZ8501 could have been attempting to fly out of icy conditions by going higher but could have encountered further issues with the ice.
Mr Singh told Sky News he thought ice was the most likely cause, rather than thunderstorms.
The pilots of the AirAsia plane maintained communication with air traffic control until the very last minute, according to David Learmount, the operations and safety editor of Flight Global.
The pilot’s mantra is to aviate, navigate and then communicate.
Therefore, something distracted them and meant they were unable to speak to air traffic control.
Mr Learmount said: “Something distracted their attention so they were no longer able to keep talking. We don’t know what happened at the moment, and it doesn’t appear to be a deliberate act.”
It is usual in terrorist targets that the group responsible is keen to claim a “victory”.
The Indonesian pilot had 20,000 hours of flying experience, according to the boss of the airline, Tony Fernandes.
Seven thousand of those hours had been with AirAsia.
He would be used to flying the short-haul route and was highly experienced, according to aviation experts.