AirAsia Flight QZ-8501 Behavior ‘On Edge of Logic’ Before Crashing

January 2, 2015 Updated: January 3, 2015

AirAsia Flight QZ-8501, which crashed last weekend, had bordered “on the edge of logic” before it went down, an expert has said.

The plane–an Airbus A320–climbed in altitude three times the normal speed before it plunged into the Java Sea, aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman.

He obtained “leaked” data from sources “close to [the] investigation,” which showed “climb rates up to 9,000 feet per minute, descent rates down to 24,000 feet per minute.”

“It was like a piece of metal being thrown down. It’s really hard to comprehend … The way it goes down is bordering on the edge of logic,” he told New Zealand-based news website Stuff.co.nz. He added that Flight QZ-8501 “didn’t fall out of the sky like an aeroplane,” adding it “bordered on the edge of logic.”

The ground speed for the ill-fated plane was as low as 61 knots during its descent, which suggests that it was heading straight down, Soejatman said. “We are fortunate that it crashed in shallow water so we can find physical evidence outside the black box. It puts great emphasis on the importance of recovering pieces of the wreckage,” he said.

After nearly a week of searching for the victims of AirAsia Flight 8501, rescue teams battling monsoon rains had their most successful day yet on Friday, more than tripling the number of bodies pulled from the Java Sea, some still strapped to their seats.

Of the 30 corpses recovered so far, 21 were found on Friday, many of them by a U.S. Navy ship, according to officials.

It remains unclear what caused the plane to plunge into the sea. The accident was AirAsia’s first since it began operations in 2001, quickly becoming one of the region’s most popular low-cost carriers.

In addition to looking for victims, Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said ships from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the U.S. are scouring the ocean floor as they try to pinpoint wreckage and the all-important black boxes.

The data recorder contains crucial information like engine temperature and vertical and horizontal speed; the voice recorder saves conversations between pilots and other sounds coming from inside the cockpit.

Toos Saniotoso, an Indonesian air safety investigator, said investigators “are looking at every aspect” as they try to determine why the plane crashed. “From the operational side, the human factor, the technical side, the ATC (air-traffic control) — everything is valuable to us.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.