The first officer, not the captain, was flying the doomed AirAsia Flight 8501 when it crashed into the ocean en route to Singapore last month, killing all 162 people aboard, officials said Thursday.
First officer Remi-Emmanuel Plesel held the controls at the time when the ill-fated aircraft attempted to make a dangerous climb, Mardjono Siswosuwarno, head investigator for the National Transportation Safety Committee, said on Thursday.
The probe into the plane's flight data recorder has reportedly revealed that it was the co-pilot's control stick that pulled the plane's nose up, causing the Airbus A320 to position at an unusually steep angle.
Plesel had only 2,200 flight hours covered over three years of flying for AirAsia, while the much senior Captain Iriyanto, a former fighter pilot, had nearly 10 times the flying experience in terms of total hours, including more than 6,000 hours flying A320s
Authorities have managed to recover 70 bodies from the sea, leaving 92 still unaccounted for.