AirAsia QZ8501 technical failures under scrutiny

The conclusion from Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) on Tuesday (December 1) that the circumstances around last year’s crash of an AirAsia Indonesia operated A320 were brought about by a faulty component has once again shone the spotlight on aircraft maintenance procedures. Flight QZ8501, which was 40 minutes into its journey from Surabaya to Singapore before contact was lost on December 28, 2014, was downed following a series of events which began with a fault in the connected circuitry in its rudder warning systems. This led to its crew attempting to reset the computer system which then caused the accidental disabling of the aircraft’s autopilot function. The NTSC said the aircraft then entered “a prolonged stall condition that was beyond the capability of the flight crew to recover” which resulted in the crash and the death of all 162 passengers. The problem with the rudder system wasn’t unknown to maintenance staff; with the issue reportedly flagged up 23 times in 2014 with resetting the system was one of a few methods used to rectify it. Because of the repetitive and unresolved nature of the issues, the blame has been placed on maintenance technicians for causing the cockpit confusion that eventually led to the aircraft crashing into the Java Sea. This conclusion differed to the one from earlier this year when inclement weather conditions were suspected. With both maintenance and crew apportioned cited, attention has now turned to what changes – if any – will result from this.

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