Indonesia Air Asia 8501: A Meteorological Analysis

Updated: 10 January 2015 (updated upper air analysis and summary).

In the early morning of December 28th, 2014, an Indonesia Air Asia A320, enroute from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore, disappeared from radar screens and radio contact was lost part of the way through its cruise over the Java Sea, just southeast of Pulau Belitung Island. All 162 people on board perished. The crew had performed a deviation off course due to weather, and had requested a climb from FL320 (32,000 ft) to FL380. ATC radar showed the aircraft passing through FL363 (36,300 ft) when radar contact was lost. See here for factual updates on the flight and investigation.

Although at present there is no confirmation that weather had any part to play in this accident, and we must wait for the full details to come out in the official investigation, I have written an analysis of the meteorological conditions in the area at the time. It is purely a statement of observations as I see them and is in no way aimed at interfering with the official investigation.

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Contrails v Chemtrails: The Science That Debunks The Conspiracy

Contrail over Kildare. Image Author
Contrail over Kildare. Image: Author

There are those who claim that the trails we see behind aircraft high in the sky are not the normal condensation of water vapour from the hot exhaust gases but are in fact chemicals that are being deliberately sprayed upon us by government agencies for some dark and sinister reasons. When asked to prove their claims, however, their response is invariably either just a video or blog of someone else making the same unsubstantiated claim, or a simple “Well why don’t you prove that they’re NOT chemtrails!”. Proof has been given time and time again but ok, here it is one more time, using only sound scientific methods and no political mumbo-jumbo.

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Turbulence Injures 12 Off Coast Of Brazil

If you ever needed proof of why it’s a good idea to keep your seat-belt attached when seated on a plane then this is it. Twelve people aboard a TAM A330 flight from Madrid to São Paulo, Brazil, were injured when the plane encountered severe turbulence off the northeast coast of Brazil early this morning. Any person or item not tied down was thrown against the ceiling as the plane suddenly descended. The crew diverted to nearby Fortaleza where the twelve people were taken to hospital. 
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Aviation Weather: A Guide To METARs and TAFs

Automatic Weather StationOf all the activities carried out by man, flying a plane obviously ranks right up there when it comes to the importance of knowing what the weather is doing, or is likely to do. Whether flying along alone on a light aircraft, or across the Atlantic with 250 others on a large airliner, there’s nowhere to go only down if you find yourself in weather that is beyond the limits of the aircraft. It’s highly important, therefore, that the pilot has a sound knowledge of what kind of weather that’s likely to be encountered along the route.

It is therefore not a coincidence that most of the routine-reporting weather stations around the world are located at airports. Even the smallest airfield will have a wind sock, probably the simplest type of weather instrument there is,

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