As recovery efforts for the AirAsia plane crash continue in the Java Sea, experts are stepping forward to share leading theories on what caused the tragic crash on Sunday.
One theory is that a small explosion caused AirAsia flight Qz8501 to crash. According to John Nance, a former Air Force pilot and current news consultant for ABC, a bomb could be the reason why the plane abruptly went off radar screens and sent no distress signals before crashing into the Java Sea with 162 people on board.
"Maybe one that wasn't strong enough to blow the airplane into pieces at altitude, but maybe one that blew the control cables from the hydraulics," Nance told ABC News.
Because search and rescue workers believe they see what is the shadow of the plane in water that is relatively shallow at around 100 feet, the AirAsia plane is thought to be largely intact, which would eliminate the theory of a larger bomb, although the possibility of a smaller bomb is still plausible.
Nance said it is also possible that the AirAsia plane stalled, due to air speed measurement tools called Pitot tools freezing, which would cause the pilots to believe they were flying the plane at a much faster speed than they actually were. This is the same fate that doomed the Air France crash in 2009, when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
However, Nance believes that if the AirAsia plane stalled, it is more likely that the plane stalled in efforts to avoid a storm rather than failing Pitot tubes. The Air France plane stall occurred when it was dark out, which would have meant that the pilot was blind to the horizon line, which would have alerted the pilots that the plane's nose was tipping up. Sunday's AirAsia plane flight occurred during the morning hours, and pilots would have been able to see the horizon, giving them time to identify the problem and correct it. Because of that, Nance believes if a stall occurred, it was more likely to have been caused by a pilot trying to abruptly increase the altitude of the plane to avoid a storm.
However, a stall would not explain the abrupt ending of the plane's radar signal.
"It's just sitting there and coming down out of the sky at an unsurvivable speed," Nance explained.
Former Marines Corps fighter pilot and ABC News consultant Steve Ganyard said that the fact that the plane is largely intact could certainly point to a stall in the plane, since a largely-intact plane points to a slower crash.
In an interview with Good Morning, America Gaynard explained further, saying, "If there is in fact a shadow that looks like an airplane underwater, it would suggest that the airplane came down fairly slowly. Maybe it was in a stall, mushing to the ground at maybe 100, 150 mph. It did not hit at a very high rate of speed, which would have dispersed lots of debris all over and we wouldn't see that shadow."
The pilot of the AirAsia flight did make a final call to ground control, requesting permission to move to a higher altitude in order to avoid a storm, which means weather could also be the cause in the tragic crash. Nance said that it is possible that the pilots "overstressed the airplane by flying into a storm," but he seems dismissive of the theory because the pilot would have had the use of radar and the mean and information needed to avoid a serious storm.
And unless some sort of major emergency such as an uncontrollable fire or the complete loss of fuel occurred, Nance dismisses the idea of a "controlled ditching," saying that if it had occurred, there would have been an emergency call to air traffic control.
"It's really puzzling," he said.
The only other explanation would be a pilot murder-suicide, which Nance said was the case in at least three other crashes in the past 20 years.
[Image via www.kdvr.com]