Investigators say that the less experienced co-pilot was in control of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 when it stalled and subsequently crashed, raising new questions as to what exactly occurred in the cockpit.

Co-Pilot Believed To Have Been Flying AirAsia 8501

Earlier this month, it was discovered that AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed after the plane tried to make a sharp ascent due to turbulance, causing the engines to stall, and, after further investigation and analyzing of the two black-box recorders, investigators believe that First Officer Rémi-Emmanuel Plesel was flying the plane at the time of the crash. Plesel had 2,275 hours of flight recorded with AirAsia Indonesia, while Captain Irianto had 6,100.

Despite the new findings, Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee investigator Ertata Lananggalih made clear that the fact that Plesel was in control of the plane before it crashed does not mean he is to blame. “There is no conclusion,” he said, as to whether or not human error caused the plane to stall. Furthermore, investigators believe that, as soon as the first warning alarm was activated by the stall, both pilots would have been working together.

“We are never talking ‘wrong and right.’ … We just want to find out, with the system, whether there’s one malfunction which we have to improve,” said Tatang Kurniadi, the chairman of the transportation safety committee, at a press conference on Thursday.

Search For Remains Is Ongoing

AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28, killing all 162 people on board. Rescuers have recovered 73 remains from the crash site, and 57 of those have been identified. The search for remains is ongoing.