Discovery Channel today announced that it will be broadcasting “Flight 8501: Storm Disaster”, about the tragic events of AirAsia Flight 8501. The aircraft, with its 155 passengers and 7 crew, was lost in a storm 40 minutes into its journey from Indonesia to Singapore on 28th December 2014 – concluding the worst year for aviation disasters in a decade.

The 60-minute special attempts to shed some light on the mystery that surrounds the event, and provides one of the most comprehensive explanations as to what happened.

This photograph from April 2014 shows Indonesia AirAsia’s Airbus A320-200 PK-AXC in the air near Jakarta Soekarno–Hatta International Airport.
This photograph from April 2014 shows Indonesia AirAsia’s Airbus A320-200 PK-AXC in the air near Jakarta Soekarno–Hatta International Airport.

Comparing and contrasting the story of AirAsia flight 8501 with recent aviation tragedies such as Air France Flight 447 and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the documentary will examine the impact of the Earth’s changing climate on the aviation industry. It will question whether so-called “super storms” are becoming more frequent and severe, putting planes at greater risk than ever before.


It will also explore whether today’s aviation technology leaves pilots too dependent on automation, resulting in information overload in critical situations.

International Networks

For the first time, computer-generated animation will break down radar data from the final moments of the flight. Leading meteorologists will use bespoke weather data from the day of the accident to look at the effects of the storm on one of the world’s safest planes, the Airbus A320.

The special will demonstrate the consequences of a mid-air stall, performed in a light aircraft by an experienced test pilot, explaining how such an occurrence could have been a factor in Flight 8501’s final moments. The documentary also features exclusive interviews with renowned global experts and those close to the event, including the legal representative for the victims’ families.

International Networks

“Flight 8501: Storm Disaster” will premiere on Discovery Channel (Astro Channel 551) on 12th April at 10pm in Malaysia. The special will also air across Asia Pacific and internationally, in more than 220 countries and territories.

“Flight 8501: Storm Disaster” is commissioned by Elizabeth McIntyre, VP Production and Development, Factual for Discovery Networks International. Tom Gorham is Executive Producer for Discovery Networks International. Ian Russell is Executive Producer for ITN Productions.

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