Indonesian AirAsia co-pilot’s body found strapped to his seat

February 8, 2015 7:49 pm

Indonesian divers may have found the body of the French co-pilot who
was steering the AirAsia plane when it crashed into the Java Sea killing
162 people onboard, an official has confirmed.
Coordinator of
the search and rescue effort S.B. Supriyadi said the body, believed to
be co-pilot Remi Plesel was retrieved from the front part of the
fuselage during a search operation on Friday.
“It is likely the
body of the French co-pilot, wearing uniform with three stripes on
shoulder,” he told AFP, adding that the body is still being held onboard
the Pacitan warship before being taken to land.
A formal
confirmation will be given after the Disaster Victims Identification
(DVI) team finish identifying the body, which is in poor condition,
Supriyadi said.

Crew members of Crest Onyx ship and Members of National Search And
Rescue Agency unload the wreckage of part of the ill-fated AirAsia
Flight 8501. Photo / AP

It was revealed by crash investigators last month
that the French co-pilot was flying the plane before it crashed, rather
than Captain Iriyanto, an experienced former fighter pilot.

Two people close to the crash investigation said Captain
Iriyanto had gone to disconnect the faulty Flight Augmentation Computer
at the time of the accident leaving the co-pilot in control.
Flight
QZ8501 went down in stormy weather on December 28 in the Java sea
during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of
Surabaya to Singapore.
Divers also found three bodies inside the
main body of the plane on Friday and another three bodies near the
fuselage, bringing a total number of dead retrieved to 101, Supriyadi
said.
Rescue services are still trying to lift the fuselage from the seabed using giant inflatable bags after earlier attempts failed.
It
comes after the pilot of the AirAsia plane was out of his seat at the
moment the plane stalled and was unable to stop the crash, sources have
said.
Investigators believe the computer malfunctioned during the
flight, but instead of resetting it, the pilot climbed out of his seat
and disconnected it from a circuit breaker located behind the co-pilot.
During
the few moments Iriyanto was out of his seat the co-pilot lost control.
The plane climbed sharply, before either stalling or losing thrust,
then fell almost straight down into the ocean below.
By the time Iriyanto had managed to get back to his seat it was too late to save the aircraft.
The
Flight Augmentation Computer limits the movement of the plane,
preventing pilots for pulling dangerous manouvres, rather like an
electronic speed limiter in a car.
One man familiar with the case
said Mr Iriyanto had flown in the same Airbus A320 several days before
the crash and was aware the device intermittently turned itself off.
But even if the device had turned itself off it would not immediately affect the path of the aircraft.
An
A320 pilot, who did not wish to be named, said the device could be
reset using a button on the dashboard, and struggled to explain why Mr
Iriyanto would have felt it necessary to leave his seat.
He said:
‘To cut all power to it is very unusual. You don’t pull the circuit
breaker unless it was an absolute emergency. I don’t know if there was
one in this case, but it is very unusual.’
Air Asia Flight QZ8501
plunged into the sea during a flight between Surabaya, Indonesia, to
Singapore on December 28 killing everyone on board.
Moments
before the crash the pilot radioed air traffic control to report a storm
ahead and asked to be allowed to climb above it, but was told the
airspace was too busy.
The aircraft’s black box recorders have
now been recovered from the seabed and are being examined for any clues
they might hold on the plane’s last moments.
AirAsia said it
would not comment while the matter was under investigation by the
National Transportation SafetyCommittee (NTSC) of Indonesia.
The
NTSC has said it is too early to say what role either human factors or
equipment may have played in the crash, which is still being
investigated.
The head of the investigation, Mardjono
Siswosuwarno, told reporters this week it was too early to say whether
the accident involved pilot error or a mechanical fault.
The NTSC
said on Thursday the jet was in sound condition and all crew members
were properly certified. Airbus declined to comment.
Lawyers for
the family of the French co-pilot say they have filed a lawsuit against
AirAsia in Paris for ‘endangering the lives of others’ by flying the
route without official authorisation on that day.
Investigators
have said the accident was not related to the permit issue. AirAsia did
not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

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