The pilot in charge of the doomed Air Asia jet that crashed into the sea was out of his seat when the plane went down, according to sources close to the investigation.
Details emerging of tragic flight QZ8501 suggest the captain was carrying out an “unorthodox procedure” when the plane’s inexperienced co-pilot apparently lost control – and by the time he returned to his seat it was too late.
The Airbus A320 plunged into the Java Sea while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore on December 28, killing all 162 people on board. A source close to the investigation said the jet, which had been flown by the same pilot just days before the crash, had been suffering maintenance faults on a key flight controller for over a week.
It was reported this week that problems with the Flight Augmentation Computer (FAC), and the way the pilots reacted to them, were at the heart of the crash investigation.
Investigators believe that, after trying to reset the device, the pilots pulled a circuit-breaker to cut its power. Sources say it was the Indonesian captain Iriyanto who took this step, rather than his less experienced French co-pilot Remy Plesel, who was left flying the plane manually in delicate high altitude conditions.