AirAsia QZ8501: Black box reveals warning alarms 'screamed' before crash, as more bodies recovered from near fuselage of jet

Recordings from the black box recorder have revealed the noise of several "screaming" alarms as pilots fought to stabilise the aircraft

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The Independent Online

A crash investigator working on the tragic case of AirAsia flight Flight 8501 has described the "screaming" alarms that were recorded on the plane's black box at the time that pilots were desperately trying to stabilise the aircraft before it crashed into the Java sea.

The details have emerged as Indonesian divers today retrieved six more bodies from waters around the sunken fuselage of the AirAsia jetliner - but remain unable to access the main body of the jet or the cockpit where it is thought most of the other bodies remain.

Divers were struggling against strong current and poor visibility to lift the fuselage and what appears to be the plane's cockpit from the seabed at a depth of 30 meters (100 feet).

So far, 59 bodies have been recovered from AirAsia Flight 8501, which plunged into the Java Sea with 162 people while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, to Singapore. Officials believed the rest are still inside the main fuselage.

Speaking to AFP, a crash investigator who wished to remain anonymous said that recordings from the black box in the plane's cockpit revealed several alarms were "screaming" at the time the pilots were trying to "recover" and stabilise the plane, including an alarm that indicated the aircraft was stalling.

fuselageweb.jpgThe investigator from Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) told AFP the pilots voices were drowned out by the sound of the alarms, which were going off "for some time". 

Earlier on Wednesday, NTSC head Tatang Kurniadi ruled out sabotage, as investigators downloaded and began analyzing data from the aircraft's cockpit voice and flight data recorders with advisers from Airbus, the plane's manufacturer.

Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan told Parliament earlier this week that radar data showed that the plane was climbing at an abnormally high rate - about 6,000 feet a minute - then dropped rapidly and disappeared. He did not say what caused the plane to climb so rapidly, but the pilots asked to climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid threatening clouds and were denied permission because of heavy air traffic. No distress signal was received.

airasia-fuselage.jpg
Part of the fuselage of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 inside a storage facility at Kumai port in Pangkalan Bun, on 19 January, 2015

An excessively rapid ascent is likely to cause an airplane to go into an aerodynamic stall. In 2009, an Air France Airbus A330 disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean in bad weather while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Investigators determined from the jet's black boxes that it began a steep climb and then went into a stall from which the pilots were unable to recover.

Airbus spokesman Justin Dubon said that it was too early to comment on possible similarities between the two crashes.

A preliminary report on the AirAsia accident is expected to be submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organization next week, in line with a requirement that it be filed within 30 days of a crash, Kurniadi said, adding that a full analysis of what went wrong with the plane could take up to a year.

AP

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