airasia-crashThe fatal crash of AirAsia Airbus A320-200 on December 28 that killed all 161 passengers aboard is believed to have been the result of ice. The conclusion was published over the weekend by the Indonesian weather office in a 14-page report. Specifically, the plane crash is said to be the result of a phenomenon that NASA has termed as a “modern day mystery”. Plane engines normally operate at the high temperature of 1,600 degrees Celsius. However, large convective storms can present freezing conditions that can seize the engine despite its high operating temperature. In those freak cases, the engine is unable to be restarted.

There have been 200 such cases reported over the past 25 years for an average of 8 per year or one incident every 1.5 months. Given the high number of flights conducted, it is a rare occurrence. At the same time, the large convective storms responsible for freezing engines occur in this part of Asia. The ill-fated flight is believed to have flown into just such a storm when it dropped off the radar. The weather has improved enough for search and recovery teams to resume the task of collecting human remains.

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