What could have happened to the AirAsia flight that went missing? It’s still early in the game to process what might have led to the disappearance of Flight 8501, but a few factors are being looked at in a Q&A article published by AOL News.
What’s known about the plane so far is that it vanished from radar while it was at the safest point in the journey. The jet was at cruise elevation, and the report states that only 10 percent of fatal crashes that happened from 2004 through 2013 were at this same flight level. This is according to a Boeing safety study that was published in August.
AirAsia Flight QZ8501 was in bad weather, but airbus jets have high-tech computers that automatically adjust to “wind shears or other weather disruptions.” It’s possible that inclement weather and pilot errors compounded together at cruise altitude caused a disaster. This was the case with a 2009 Air France flight when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Washington Post offers up detailed information on the exact weather conditions Flight 8501 was traveling in. It points out that satellite images show there were “multiple complexes of thunderstorms, with towering cumulonimbus clouds bulging 50,000 feet into the atmosphere” when the AirAsia flight went missing.
Another contributing factor behind missing Flight 8501 might also involve a dysfunction in pressurization. Metal fatigue may have resulted from pressurization and depressurization during the takeoff and landing cycle. This theory is thought to be unlikely, since the A320 plane is just 6-years-old with 23,000 flight hours and 13,600 takeoffs and landings on its log. Many planes that have suffered malfunctions with metal fatigue have occurred in humid climate conditions, which is said to speed corrosion.
Lastly, terrorism or mass murder by the pilot is another theory. This is also one of the theories still behind Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8. Ten months on, no signs of the plane or passengers has surfaced. There were 239 people aboard the plane.
According to safety studies done by Boeing, the A230 model of planes has a pristine flying record.
When Flight 8501 departed Surabaya, Indonesia, for Singapore on Sunday, it had 18,000 pounds of jet fuel, which is enough to fly for three-and-a-half hours, flight dispatcher Phil Derner Jr. says. He adds that planes flying from New York to Florida tend use less fuel than that.
As for the flight territory that this AirAsia plane was covering, the Asia-Pacific region has made up about 42-percent of flight paths for travelers in the last two decades.
Missing AirAsia Flight 8501 has 162 passengers onboard.