AirAsia QZ8501 Update: Who Is Captain Iriyanto, The Pilot?
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes still has complete faith in Captain Iriyanto, the pilot of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, as bodies arrive at Surabaya, Indonesia to be identified.
Iriyanto was piloting Flight QZ8501 when it disappeared over the Java Sea in Indonesia on Sunday, Dec. 28. Debris from the lost flight has since been found near where the plane was when it lost contact with air traffic control, and a confirmed seven bodies have been recovered from the surrounding area. While little is known about what caused the downing of Flight QZ8501, a majority of the speculation has been concentrated on the bad weather, possible technical malfunctions and the competency of the pilot.
Who Is Captain Iriyanto?
Captain Iriyanto, an Indonesian man, was an experienced pilot, with 20,000 hours of flying under his belt – 6,000 of those were accumulated with AirAsia. Before joining the world of commercial flights, he served for 10 years in the Air Force, where he became a first lieutenant. In comparison, his first officer on Flight QZ8501, Emmanuel Remi Plesel, a Frenchman, had 2,247 hours of flying experience.
By all accounts, Iriyanto was a very dependable pilot. “[Iriyanto] is a good flier, procedural and considered outstanding,” said Indonesian Air Force spokesman Hadi Tjahjanto.
Fernandes also expressed his confidence in Iriyanto’s abilities at a press conference earlier this week, saying, “Our pilot was extremely experienced – 20,000 hours. He came from the air force, he was one of their best graduates, so I still have complete faith in our operation in Indonesia and elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, his family holds out hope for his possible return – he is father to a 7-year-old son, Arya Galih Gegana, and a 25-year-old daughter, Angela Anggi Ranastianis.
“Papa please come home. I still need you papa. Please return my papa to me. I need to see you papa. Papa please come home,” his daughter wrote on a social media account.