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AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Climbed Too Fast, 6,000 Feet a Minute, Before Crash

Image: AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Climbed Too Fast, 6,000 Feet a Minute, Before Crash
The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from AirAsia flight QZ8501 is displayed by officials upon its arrival in Pangkalan Bun on January 13, 2015. (Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 20 Jan 2015 01:40 PM

Indonesia's transport minister said Tuesday that AirAsia Flight QZ8501 climbed too fast before plunging into the sea, at a rate of about 6,000 feet per minute.

"It is not normal to climb like that, it's very rare for commercial planes, which normally climb just 1,000 to 2,000 feet per minute," Ignasius Jonan told Parliament, according to The Associated Press. "It can only be done by a fighter jet."

The AirAsia plane with 162 people on board was climbing at the abnormally high rate before it disappeared on Dec. 28.

Jonan did not say what caused the plane to climb so rapidly.

In their last contact with air-traffic controllers, the pilots of AirAsia Flight 8501 asked to climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid threatening clouds, but were denied permission because of heavy air traffic. Four minutes later, the plane disappeared. No distress signal was received.

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 were able to determine 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 Tuesday that it was too early to comment on possible similarities between the two crashes.

Survey ships have located at least nine big objects, including the AirAsia jet's fuselage and tail, in the Java Sea. The plane's black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder — have been recovered but are still being analyzed.

"So far, we've managed to download and transcribe half of the cockpit voice recorder," said Nurcahyo Utomo, a commissioner with the National Transportation Safety Committee. "It is too early to draw any conclusion yet because we don't know what is in the remaining half."

He said there was no indication of terrorism, and there were no other voices in the cockpit other than the pilot and co-pilot.

The plane was en route from Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, to Singapore.

Rough sea conditions have repeatedly prevented divers from reaching the wreckage. Only 53 bodies have been recovered so far.

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Indonesia's transport minister said Tuesday that AirAsia Flight QZ8501 climbed too fast before plunging into the sea, at a rate of about 6,000 feet per minute.
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Tuesday, 20 Jan 2015 01:40 PM
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