On 28 December 2014 AirAsia Flight 8501, an Airbus A320-200, was travelling from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore and disappeared shortly after take-off. It is reported that around 37 minutes after take-off the pilots requested air traffic control (ATC) clearance to change course and climb to avoid bad weather, then around five minutes later radar contact with the aircraft was lost and it crashed into the sea. Tragically all of the 162 persons on board were killed.
Following an extensive search operation, on 13 January 2015 the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were recovered. It is reported that investigators are now examining the Flight Augmentation Computer (FAC) system as it appears the pilots cut power to the device. The loss of the FAC system would remove flight envelope protection, which prevents pilots from taking a plane beyond its safety limits. This could explain why the aircraft appeared to climb at a rate that far exceeded its capabilities, eventually resulting in a loss of lift and stall.
It is crucial that the investigators identify the full chain of events that led to this tragedy, particularly the roles played by the weather, the aircraft systems and the crew actions.
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