A report from the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics — also known as BMKG — says icy conditions likely damaged the plane’s engines and caused AirAsia Flight 8501 to crash.
“Based on the available data received on the location of the aircraft’s last contact, the weather was the triggering factor behind the accident,” said the report.
“The most probable weather phenomenon was icing which can cause engine damage due to a cooling process. This is just one of the possibilities that occurred based on the analysis of existing meteorological data,” it said.
This statement from BMKG matches previous speculation that weather was the driving factor. Captain Iriyanto, an experienced former air force pilot, said he wanted to change course to avoid a bad storm system. However, the request was denied due to heavy aircraft traffic in the area. After that exchange, all contact was lost.
It should be noted that the BMKG says this is not a final determination and other factors may have played a part in the disaster. Workers are still attempting to obtain the plane’s black box voice and flight data recorders in order to retrieve concrete information from the flight itself.
This morning, there has been some hope in that regard. An Indonesian naval patrol vessel reported that they found what could be the tail of the crashed AirAsia passenger jet, where the black box voice and flight data recorders are located.
“We found what has a high probability of being the tail of the plane,” Yayan Sofyan, captain of the patrol vessel, said after his ship returned to the port in Surabaya on Monday.
“I am not saying it’s the tail yet,” the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, told a news conference in Jakarta. “That is suspected. Now we are trying to confirm it.”
So far, officials have found five large objects believed to be from the plane and about 30 bodies. Unfortunately, harsh weather conditions have made the search difficult.
“The seas haven’t been very friendly, but the black boxes have a 30-day life and they will be able to find them,” said Peter Marosszeky, a senior aviation research fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. “It’s the weather that is causing the delay.“