[JAKARTA] Indonesian authorities listening to the cockpit-voice recorder of AirAsia flight 8501 heard no loud sound or explosion, leading them to rule out terrorism as the cause of bringing down the jetliner.
There's no evidence of terrorism causing the crash, Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator with Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, said today. An initial report on the loss of the airliner with 162 people on board will be issued by next week, according to investigators.
Decoding information stored in the flight-data recorder and the cockpit-voice recorder, together known as the black box, and piecing together debris will help the investigators understand what caused the plane to go down. The Airbus Group NV single-aisle jet went off radar Dec 28 while cruising on a flight to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia, after the pilot had sought permission to change course amid clouds in his path.
The flight-data recorder was retrieved earlier this month in good condition and taken to Jakarta for investigation. The device holds information such as the plane's altitude and speed. The cockpit-voice recorder captures conversations between the ground and the pilots and sounds in the cockpit.
Investigators use information from the recorders to reconstruct the final moments before a crash and sometimes come up with recommendations to prevent other disasters.
Flying at 32,000 feet (9,750 metres), the pilot of QZ8501 had asked to climb to a higher altitude, citing clouds, officials have said. By the time air traffic controllers responded some two minutes later there was no reply from the plane. There were storms along the plane's flight path, yet other planes managed to fly through the same area at the same time without incident.
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, state air-navigation operator 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 schedule revision, he told parliament in a hearing.