- Indonesian divers have found a body believed to be the French co-pilot
- Officials said the body was retrieved from the front part of the fuselage
- It’s reported the body was wearing a uniform with three stripes on shoulder
- Divers found more bodies on Friday – bringing a total number to 101
- It comes as investigators revealed Captain Iriyanto turned off faulty system
- This would have meant pilots took manual control of the Airbus A320
- By the time Iriyano got back to his seat aircraft was plunging into ocean
- Experts say turning off computer manually is a ‘highly unusual move’
Cindy Tran for Daily Mail Australia
Chris Pleasance for MailOnline
08:12 EST, 7 February 2015
04:03 EST, 8 February 2015
Indonesian divers may have found the body of the French co-pilot who was steering the AirAsia plane when it crashed into the Java Sea killing 162 people onboard, an official has confirmed.
Coordinator of the search and rescue effort S.B. Supriyadi said the body, believed to be co-pilot Remi Plesel was retrieved from the front part of the fuselage during a search operation on Friday.
‘It is likely the body of the French co-pilot, wearing uniform with three stripes on shoulder,’ he told AFP, adding that the body is still being held onboard the Pacitan warship before being taken to land.
Indonesian divers may have found the body of the co-pilot who was steering AirAsia plane when it crashed
A section of AirAsia flight QZ8501’s tail is loaded onto a boat for transportation to Jakarta from Kumai Port
A formal confirmation will be given after the Disaster Victims Identification (DVI) team finish identifying the body, which is in poor condition, Supriyadi said.
It was revealed by crash investigators last month that the French co-pilot was flying the plane before it crashed, rather than Captain Iriyanto, an experienced former fighter pilot.
Two people close to the crash investigation said Captain Iriyanto had gone to disconnect the faulty Flight Augmentation Computer at the time of the accident leaving the co-pilot in control.
Flight QZ8501 went down in stormy weather on December 28 in the Java sea during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.
Divers also found three bodies inside the main body of the plane on Friday and another three bodies near the fuselage, bringing a total number of dead retrieved to 101, Supriyadi said.
Rescue services are still trying to lift the fuselage from the seabed using giant inflatable bags after earlier attempts failed.
The AirAsia flight vanished from radar screens on December 28, less than half-way into a two-hour flight
Workers load the tail of AirAsia flight QZ8501 onto truck at Kumai sea port, in Central Kalimantan on Friday
It comes after the pilot of the AirAsia plane was out of his seat at the moment the plane stalled and was unable to stop the crash, sources have said.
Investigators believe the computer malfunctioned during the flight, but instead of resetting it, the pilot climbed out of his seat and disconnected it from a circuit breaker located behind the co-pilot.
During the few moments Iriyanto was out of his seat the co-pilot lost control. The plane climbed sharply, before either stalling or losing thrust, then fell almost straight down into the ocean below.
By the time Iriyanto had managed to get back to his seat it was too late to save the aircraft.
The Flight Augmentation Computer limits the movement of the plane, preventing pilots for pulling dangerous manouvres, rather like an electronic speed limiter in a car.
One man familiar with the case said Mr Iriyanto had flown in the same Airbus A320 several days before the crash and was aware the device intermittently turned itself off.
Indonesian divers found a body believed to belong to the French co-pilot of the AirAsia plane that crashed
Captain Iriyanto (left) got out of his seat to turn off a faulty computer, leaving co-pilot Remy Pelsel in charge
But even if the device had turned itself off it would not immediately affect the path of the aircraft.
An A320 pilot, who did not wish to be named, said the device could be reset using a button on the dashboard, and struggled to explain why Mr Iriyanto would have felt it necessary to leave his seat.
He said: ‘To cut all power to it is very unusual. You don’t pull the circuit breaker unless it was an absolute emergency. I don’t know if there was one in this case, but it is very unusual.’
Air Asia Flight QZ8501 plunged into the sea during a flight between Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore on December 28 killing everyone on board.
Moments before the crash the pilot radioed air traffic control to report a storm ahead and asked to be allowed to climb above it, but was told the airspace was too busy.
The aircraft’s black box recorders have now been recovered from the seabed and are being examined for any clues they might hold on the plane’s last moments.
AirAsia said it would not comment while the matter was under investigation by the National Transportation SafetyCommittee (NTSC) of Indonesia.
The Airbus A320 climbed suddenly before falling almost directly down into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board. Rescue workers are still pulling the wreckage from the ocean (pictured)
The NTSC has said it is too early to say what role either human factors or equipment may have played in the crash, which is still being investigated.
The head of the investigation, Mardjono Siswosuwarno, told
reporters this week it was too early to say whether the accident
involved pilot error or a mechanical fault.
The NTSC said on Thursday the jet was in sound condition and
all crew members were properly certified. Airbus declined to comment.
Lawyers for the family of the French co-pilot say they have
filed a lawsuit against AirAsia in Paris for ‘endangering
the lives of others’ by flying the route without official
authorisation on that day.
Investigators have said the accident
was not related to the permit issue. AirAsia did not immediately respond to requests for comment
on the lawsuit.