Investigators: AirAsia A320 Stall Warning Sounded

Flight data shows rapid climb before plummeting.

AirAsia A320

AirAsia A320

AirAsia A320 (credit: Jyi1693 at en.wikipedia)

The stall warning system aboard the AirAsia Airbus A320 that crashed near Indonesia after encountering violent storms in late December sounded moments after the jet began a steep ascent and continued for more than three minutes until the jetliner impacted the Java Sea, crash investigators say.

Based on flight recorder data, investigators now know the A320-200 was cruising at 32,000 feet when it suddenly veered left and began a sharp ascent to 37,400 feet before plummeting into the sea. The copilot was at the controls when the jet began its steep climb, although the captain took over from the less experienced pilot at some point before the crash, investigators with Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee said at a press conference in Indonesia today.

Before the crash, which killed all 162 aboard AirAsia Flight 8501, the pilots had asked ATC for a climb to FL 380 to avoid towering storms. That request was denied due to conflicting traffic. The jetliner then climbed 5,400 feet without warning in the span of about 30 seconds, bleeding speed rapidly as the stall warning sounded.

NTSC officials say the full investigation into the cause of the crash will take seven to eight months.

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