AirAsia: Pilots should not climb over thunderstorms, says Air Marshal Pandey

When an aircraft enter into a thunderstorm or thundercloud known as the Cumulonimbus Clouds there is very little remaining to be salvaged. In fact the impact is so high that the aircraft blip will be lost and cannot be traced on the radar.

Air Marshal B K Pandey says in this interview with OneIndia says that no pilot should even attempt climbing over a thunderstorm as the implications are very bad and the AirAsia incident could have been completely avoidable. [AirAsia plane crash: 7th body recovered]

Air Marshal B K Pandey

Cumulonimbus Clouds:

If an aircraft enters a thunderstorm or a thunder-cloud known as the Cumulonimbus Clouds the impact is so strong that the aircraft blip is lost and the radars are not able to track it.

It is not that a plane is always being watched. The monitoring is more by the voice radio of the aircraft and its position is reported to the pre-reporting points.

This incident is very similar to what we say in 2009 involving an air craft of the Air France which was flying between Rio and Paris. This is a repeat of that accident. [AirAsia plane crash: Devastated family of air hostess share its pain]

In the AirAsia case the pilot had over 20,000 hours of flying experience and it amazes me how people can drive themselves into death with so many passengers.

It was a totally avoidable tragedy and all he needed to do was turn back and land in Jakarta. He should not have tried to defeat the thunderstorm as there is no such thing as trying to defeat a thunderstorm.

What could have gone wrong?

What could have gone wrong is that the pilot saw this wall of a thunderstorm and felt that he could have climbed over it. Climbing over a thunderstorm has its implications. The Cumulonimbus Clouds grows very rapidly in a vertical position and can reach up to 45000 to 50000 feet. The pilot could climb up to only 38000 feet.

This has serious implications and when on the top of a thunderstorm you get into the icing and this results in the speed readings of the aircraft going haywire. [AirAsia tragedy: Bodies recovered, DNA samples collected for identification]

The aircraft gets tossed around very badly and stops responding to controls. In such an event regaining control becomes tough and almost impossible.

"Pilot should not have tried to defeat the thunderstorm".

In such cases it also leads to a structural failure and due to this the aircraft starts to spiral and the severe icing in the thunderstorm that it encounters can jam the control surface.

In such an event the pilot may have not given the distress call as he was completely flustered. Moreover in such an event the radar blips do not see the thunderstorm blips which makes the aircraft go off the radar completely.

The MH370 tragedy:

In the case of the MH-370 which has not yet been traced, it was a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. The aircraft was heading North when it should have been going South.

The Americans may have thought that it was flying in the wrong direction and suspected a 9/11 kind of attack. It is being said that it could have been shot down for this very reason. [AirAsia: Sonar image of plane obtained, rescue efforts on]

Now coming to the question as to why it was flying North is something that can be ascertained only once the black box is retrieved. Unless the conversation is analysed one can never know the truth and it will remain a mystery.

Oneindia News

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