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AirAsia Victim With Life Jacket Raises Questions

AirAsia Victim With Life Jacket Raises Questions AirAsia Victim With Life Jacket Raises Questions

A body recovered on Wednesday from the crashed AirAsia plane was wearing a life jacket, an official with Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said, raising 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, according to Reuters.

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 would appear to indicate those on board had at least some time before the aircraft hit the water, or after it hit the water and before it sank.

And yet the pilots did not issue a distress signal. The plane disappeared after it failed to get permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather because of heavy air traffic.

The black box flight data and cockpit voice recorder has yet to be found.

Most of the people on board were Indonesians. No survivors have been found.

Officials said waves two to three meters (six to nine feet) high and winds were hampering the hunt for wreckage and preventing divers from searching the crash zone.

“The fact that the debris appears fairly contained suggests the aircraft broke up when it hit the water, rather than in the air,” said Neil Hansford, a former pilot and chairman of consultancy firm Strategic Aviation Solutions.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said his priority was retrieving the bodies.

Widodo, speaking in Surabaya on Tuesday after grim images of the scene in the Java Sea were broadcast on television, said AirAsia would pay an immediate advance of money to relatives, many of whom collapsed in grief when they saw the television pictures from the search.

A Qantas pilot with 25 years of experience flying in the region said the discovery of the debris field relatively close to the last known radar plot of the plane pointed to an aerodynamic stall. One possibility is that the plane’s instruments iced up, giving the pilots inaccurate readings.

Three airline disasters involving Malaysian-affiliated carriers in less than a year have dented confidence in the country’s aviation industry and spooked travelers.

Financialtribune.com