Modern airliners should not fall out of the sky, so why did an Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320 do so with no emergency call? Unless it was some form of terrorism or sabotage one can only look to previous experience for answers.

In two other recent cases aircraft did drop out of the sky in similar circumstances. Their crews were also navigating tropical skies and manoeuvring to avoid storms, and both went missing without emergency calls. In both cases it took about two days to locate wreckage.

The most recent involved an Air Algerie flight from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to Algiers. Early in the cruise crew advised ATC they were changing course to avoid weather, then the aircraft crashed. The final accident report is not out, but data from the flight recorders is. The aircraft – clearly subject to turbulence, windshear and probably icing – underwent large changes in attitude and power setting before crew lost control.

The other event was Air France flight 447 in 2009. Atmospheric ice crystals momentarily blocked the A330’s pitot tubes, robbing the crew of airspeed information and tripping out the autopilot. The pilot flying reacted as if shocked, and soon the aircraft was out of control. In both cases the aircraft could have been safely managed despite the adverse weather, but they were not. The industry is familiar with this syndrome, but still is doing nothing more than wringing its hands.

Source: Flight International