SINCE last December 28, when AirAsia Flight QZ8501 en route from Indonesia to Singapore inexplicably went off the radar, the mystery has spurred all kinds of conjectures, informed or otherwise. Now, Discovery Channel will shed some light as to what really happened to the ill-fated flight in a comprehensive 60-minute documentary, Flight 8501: Storm Disaster, which airs today. It explores the tragedy that took the life of 162 people onboard, and one that has baffled many.
“Once again, Discovery Channel is bringing viewers compelling stories that have strong local interest. In the past, topical shows—such as Haiyan: After the Megastorm, After the Wave, and Flight 370: The Missing Links—had resonated well with audiences in the region. These specials help provide insight into the tragedies and tell inspiring stories of bravery and the tenacity of the human spirit in the darkest of hours,” said Theresa Ong, senior vice president and general manager, Southeast Asia, Discovery Networks Asia Pacific.
The documentary will juxtapose what befell Flight QZ8501 with recent aviation tragedies, like the Air France Flight 447 and Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, against the backdrop of the Earth’s ever-changing climate and so-called super storms, and the threat these altered phenomena pose to flight safety.
Along with exclusive interviews with the legal representatives for the victims’ families, the documentary will explain the tragedy through the help of global aviation experts and firsthand accounts of those close to the event.
Among the aviation experts consulted is the Jakarta-based Gerry Soejatman, who in an exclusive phoner with the BusinessMirror, shared his analysis on how the tragedy met by Flight QZ8501 was caused by weather, as investigators looked into the cause of the initial upset of the flight. “Pilots are trained to avoid the weather but, again, in some parts of the world, sometimes the weather system is quite large that it is impractical to avoid the worst spots,” he said.
“There are no major requirement changes on how we deal with weather in terms of aviation, but technology will improve. There will be new radar systems that will isolate the biggest problem spots on the radar screen for the pilot so that he doesn’t need to think hard for the option available to him in navigating through the weather.” The documentary also explores how, with today’s cockpit crew having become increasingly dependent on today’s aviation technologies, information overload in critical situations can also affect a flight in distress.
“Information has really helped a lot in terms of reducing the workload when things are normal, when the systems are all fine. We have seen in other accidents that systems can have multiple failures at the same time, but that has always been the case anyway,” Soejatman said. “Before today’s highly automated airplanes, when you had multiple problems going on at the same time, it was hard to deal with them.”
Computer-generated animation brings to graphic imagery what used to be mere radar data from the flight before it vanished into thin air. What happens when an aircraft is caught in a midair stall, as what very likely happened to Flight QZ8501, will also be simulated in a light aircraft by an experienced test pilot to explain how the flight went in a downward spiral. Top-rank meteorologists will analyze weather data from the day of the accident to understand how storms can alter the stability of one of the world’s safest planes, the A320.
Contrary to what a recent series of unfortunate events in the aviation realm has had us playing terribly in our heads, Soejatman said that 2014 was actually the safest year for the industry in terms of the occurrence rate of fatal accidents. “We do see a reduction in disasters. Last year we had one fatal accident for every 2.38 million flights. Before that, we had one per 1 million, and then one per half a million—the trend is going down,” he said.
“We are safe in flying and safety is improving. You are more likely to be involved in a fatal accident going from your house to the airport. [The airplane] is still the safest mode of transportation,” Soejatman added.
Meanwhile, Flight 8501: Storm Disaster premieres on Discovery Channel today at 8 pm (Manila Time). It will also air across the Asia Pacific and internationally in more than 220 countries.
The picture you used to illustrate the article is from the recovery of AirFrance 447… The colors on the retrieved wing as well as the Portuguese inscription on the salvage boat, belonging to the Brasilian Coast Guard say as much. A correction would be in order…. And use this picture instead. Is creative commons licensed, from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesia_AirAsia_Flight_8501#/media/File:Crest_Onyx_with_the_tail_of_Air_Asia_Flight_QZ8501_on_its_stern.jpg
yes wrong airplane in picture – faulty reporting – at least put a title under picture…. and sounds like a lot of speculation to me. if I watch it I will see if they have any FACTS. but I am sure it is global warming that brought it down !!!!.