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AirAsia to help analyse flight recorders to uncover crash cause

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AirAsia Bhd officials will gain access to the flight recordings this week of doomed Flight QZ8501 to help Indonesian investigators piece together the final moments of the plane that went down last month with 162 people.

[DAVOS] AirAsia Bhd officials will gain access to the flight recordings this week of doomed Flight QZ8501 to help Indonesian investigators piece together the final moments of the plane that went down last month with 162 people.

"We have been provisionally asked to be on standby on Friday to analyze the data and to hear it for the first time," Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of the carrier, said in an interview in Davos on Thursday. "So I can imagine over the next three to four weeks we'll have a clearer picture of what happened."

The Airbus Group NV A320 probably entered a stall after an unusually steep ascent, Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said this week. Indonesian investigators' analysis of the cockpit voice recorder has produced no evidence of terrorism having brought down the plane, authorities have said.

The company is hopeful that the entire hull of the single- aisle plane will be lifted up and authorities pull more bodies from the ocean, Fernandes said.

An initial report on the loss of the QZ8501 and its 162 passengers and crew will be issued by next week, according to the leaders of the probe.

The AirAsia plane disappeared from radar screens en route to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia, after the pilot sought permission to climb from an altitude of 32,000 feet because of thunder clouds. The local weather office has said the jet's engines could have been affected by ice formation inside the storm, citing meteorological conditions over the Java Sea.

Listening to the voice recorder, investigators heard communication between other aircraft and air traffic control that overlapped with the AirAsia pilots, which was "disturbing because the voices are loud."

Indonesia has said it intends to shut the agency responsible for coordinating aircraft flight slots in three months. That's after the AirAsia flight took off on a Sunday, without a Transport Ministry permit to fly that day.

The government has since suspended the license of AirAsia for that route, found other airlines in breach of permits and removed officials involved from the ministry, AirNav Indonesia and state airport company PT Angkasa Pura 1.

The airline made an administrative error in flying QZ8501 on Sunday, AirAsia Indonesia Chief Executive Officer Sunu Widyatmoko said Jan 13. The carrier didn't inform the Directorate of Air Aviation on the schedule revision, he told parliament in a hearing.

"Some of the regulatory approvals come through in many different ways," Mr Fernandes said on Thursday. "Obviously, we had approval to fly to Singapore, we have approvals from the airports, we had rights seven times a week. There was just one bit of administrative issue which some authorities don't need, some do."

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