Data Suggest Plane Climbed Too High, Too Fast

But investigation of AirAsia crash is still in early stages
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2014 4:57 PM CST
Data Suggest Plane Climbed Too High, Too Fast
Indonesian soldiers sit near bodies of the plane crash victims in Kumai Gulf, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Media Indonesia, Susanto)

The investigation into why AirAsia crashed is just getting underway, but Reuters reports that a leading theory based on radar data is emerging: The plane climbed too high, too quickly in a bid to avoid storm clouds, then stalled and went down into the Java Sea. It quotes an anonymous source close to the investigation: "So far, the numbers taken by the radar are unbelievably high. This rate of climb is very high, too high. It appears to be beyond the performance envelope of the aircraft." The story emphasizes that the full picture won't be clear until the data recorders from the Airbus A320 are found.

A pilot familiar with the A320 weighs in: "If you encounter turbulence, you go slower at what we call the turbulence penetration speed to get through it. If you climb to avoid turbulence, you slow down to have a better climb rate. ... But if you climb suddenly and start to lose speed, you will stall." Bad weather, meanwhile, cut today's recovery operations short, reports the BBC. So far, only seven of 162 bodies have been recovered. Thanks to sonar images, investigators think they've spotted the plane, or large parts of it, on the sea floor, but the water was too choppy for divers today, reports AP. (Read more AirAsia stories.)

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