AirAsia flight QZ8501: Co-pilot was flying doomed plane when it crashed into Java Sea

Indonesian investigators have confirmed captain Remi Plesel is believed to have been in charge from take-off until the cockpit voice recording

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The French first officer and co-pilot of AirAsia flight QZ8501 was controlling the plane in the last moments before it crashed into the sea off Indonesia, killing all 162 on board.

Captain Remi Plesel, 46, is believed to have been in charge from take-off until the cockpit voice recording, recovered from the Java Sea earlier this month, ends.

Mr Plesel had 2,247 hours experience, according to a Bloomberg report last month, in comparison to his co-pilot captain Iriyanto, 53, who had clocked up more than 20,000.

Shortly after the plane went down, Mr Plesel’s mother Rolande told French newspaper Le Parisen: “He wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a child.”

The head Indonesian investigator Mardjono Siswosuwarno claimed that information from the flight data recorder provided a “pretty clear picture” of what happened in the last moments of Flight QZ8501.

The data recovered allows a partial reconstruction of the final minutes before the crash.

Investigators said the plane, travelling from Indonesia’s Surabaya to Singapore, rose sharply upwards in 30 seconds to 37,400ft before dropping back to 32,000ft in a three minute stretch.

"The second-in-command, popularly known as the co-pilot, who usually sits to the right of the cockpit. At the time, he was flying the plane," said Mr Siswosuwarno. "The captain, sitting to the left, was the pilot monitoring."


He said that the plane was flying within its weight limits and “balance envelope”. He also confirmed that all the flight crew possessed “valid licences and medical certificates."

Only 70 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage as divers have struggled to bring the fuselage to the surface, hampered by adverse weather conditions.

Yesterday, Indonesian officials confirmed that further searches could be called off in the coming days if no more bodies are recovered.

Divers entered the wreckage last week but believe there are no more bodies to be found in the carcass of the plane.

Additional reporting by Reuters