AirAsia QZ8501, which went missing on its way from Surabaya to Singapore, may have pulled off a successful emergency landing before it sank in the Java Sea, reports the local media based on expert opinions.
The absence of any usual crash transmission data indicates that the ill-fated aircraft could have touched-down safely, experts say, as the hunt for the black box is still on. "The emergency locator transmitter (ELT) would work on impact, be that land, sea or the sides of a mountain, and my analysis is it didn't work because there was no major impact during landing," Dudi Sudibyo, a senior editor of aviation magazine Angkasa told New York Post.
"The pilot managed to land it on the sea's surface."
In the debris found scattered about 100 miles off the coast of Borneo were the emergency exit doors and inflatable slides, which indicate that the passengers may have tried to escape after the plane landed on water.
From among the bodies recovered from the sea, one of them was found wearing a life jacket, Tatang Zaenudinan, an official with the National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) was quoted as saying by Russian Times. This was a major giveaway that the passengers were getting ready for an emergency sea landing.
Former Indonesian transport minister Jusman Syafii Djaman has also surmised that the travelers were possibly waiting for a flight official to inflate the raft when a powerful sea wave possibly hit the plane making it sink.
"High waves may have hit the plane, the nose, and sunk the plane," he said.
A theory that the plane definitely didn't explode was supported by the fact that bodies recovered so far from the sea were largely intact. Also importantly, there were no indications that the bodies were burnt.
"The conclusions I have come to so far are that the plane did not blow up midair, and it did not suffer an impact when it hit the surface, because if it did so, the bodies would not be intact," Chappy Hakim, a former air force commander, told AFP.
Also important is the fact that former air-force pilot Captain Iriyanto, who was flying the doomed aircraft, had a vast aviation experience, and had clocked 6,100 hours of flying time, The Independent noted last week.
Many ships and planes are constantly scouring the Java Sea to find the wreckage of the missing aircraft which disappeared from the air traffic control system radar early on Sunday 28 December. The Singapore-bound plane vanished with 162 people on board about 42 minutes after taking off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya.