Asia Bodies of AirAsia pilots found in cockpit in Java Sea

Bodies of AirAsia pilots found in cockpit in Java Sea

Indonesian rescue personnel from the National Search and Rescue Agency recover a body from the underwater wreckage of the ill-fated Air Asia flight QZ8501 in Java sea
Indonesian rescue personnel from the National Search and Rescue Agency recover a body from the underwater wreckage of the ill-fated Air Asia flight QZ8501 in Java sea

Divers in the Java Sea have discovered the bodies of the two pilots from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 strapped to their seats in the plane’s damaged cockpit section.

Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, told Kompas.com Saturday, “I suspect [the bodies] are the pilots because of their uniform and positions in the cockpit seats.”

While one of the bodies was lifted out of the Karimata Strait — off the west coast of Borneo island — Friday afternoon, Soelistyo expressed hope that weather conditions would permit divers to recover the other pilot still trapped in the cockpit.

Explaining that the agency could not identify whether the recovered body belonged to the flight’s captain Iriyanto or French co-pilot Remy Plesel, he said, “we’re waiting for identification by Disaster Victim Identification.”

He said search teams would prioritize retrieving the remaining body, but did not confirm whether the cockpit section, found in damaged condition 20 feet (6 meters) from where the fuselage was discovered.

He also announced that search operations would be extended as a total of 28 victims were found over the week, bringing the number of recovered bodies to 98.

Late last month, the agency had said the search for victims might be called off if more bodies were not found.

Indonesia’s military had earlier ceased search operations, withdrawing its warships after a slowdown in the discovery of bodies.

Soelistyo said that prior to the agency’s one-week extension of its operation last weekend, only 70 bodies had been recovered.

“In a week we can find 28. I will not stop the operation,” Soelistyo added.

Investigators are analyzing data from the aircraft’s two “black box” flight recorders to determine why it crashed Dec. 28 off Borneo as it flew from Surabaya city to Singapore with 162 people on board. Terrorism has been ruled unlikely.

The last contact with air traffic controllers was when the pilot asked to climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid storm clouds.

The flight was denied immediate permission due to heavy air traffic in the area and four minutes later the plane disappeared.

It reportedly disappeared from radar immediately after climbing at a rate outside the Airbus A320-200’s safety parameters.

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