2014 will go down in history as a particularly bad year for Malaysian Airlines. The story of two high profile crashes of the missing flight MH370 a mystery that is still to be solved; and flight MH17 that was brought down by a Russian missile over the war-torn regions of Ukraine, are still fresh in our minds.
As if that were not enough, in the last few days of the year, yet another jet, belonging to Indonesian airliner AirAsia, crashed near the seas of Indonesia.
AirAsia flight 8501 went missing on Dec 28, 2014 with 162 people and crew on board. The plane was flying from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore when it vanished from the radar. There was severe weather along the flight path. The pilot during the flight had requested for permission to change direction and climb from a cruising altitude of 32,000 ft to 38,000 ft. The request was however denied because of traffic at that altitude.
From early analysis, experts believe that the jet may have flown into a storm cloud and its engine’s operations could have been affected by “icing".
Ice typically builds up when tiny cloud droplets freeze on the surfaces of the plane. Ice can affect airflow over the wing and tail of the plane and can cause a reduction in the lift force that keeps the plane in the air. It can potentially cause an aerodynamic stall - a temporary loss of control.
To add a wrinkle to the story, Indonesian transport authorities say that AirAsia was not licensed to fly the route from Surabaya to Singapore on the day of the crash. Search and rescue mission is still ongoing to recover the black box to confirm the actual cause of the accident.