Quoting the WSJ article, “Indonesian authorities are delving into what factors may have surprised or CONFUSED (my caps) the first officer, who was much less experienced than the captain, according to two safety experts familiar with the probe...Investigators, these people said, seek to determine what caused the nose of the Airbus A320 to point upward at an unusually steep angle, while the plane’s computerized stall-protection systems either malfunctioned or were disengaged...Repeated automated stall warnings were captured on the cockpit-voice recorder as the co-pilot and captain struggled unsuccessfully to regain control of the jet, investigators have said…Based on data previously released by Indonesian authorities, the jetliner climbed more than 5,000 feet in less than 30 seconds—several times faster than any jetliner is supposed to ascend. It changed directions twice during that period, before it started to descend quickly. The jet changed its heading at least twice more and went into a spiral... The Airbus A320 lost forward airspeed during its rapid climb, stalled and then crashed into the water below…The flight-data recorder, according to the two people familiar with the probe, indicates the first officer’s control stick pulled the plane’s nose up. But it isn’t clear when those commands occurred in the sequence of events, or why they were initiated.”
Once again, going back to the DFDR data and BEA simulations from the Air France 447 (Airbus A330) incident formal report:
Subsequent to pitot tube icing in rough/t’storm weather the computed airspeed was lost and A/P and A/T disconnected, F/D bars were lost, flight law changed to Alternate Law, +V/S, Pitch (manually-eventually to over 10+ deg. nose up), and FPA started increasing rapidly. The pilot in the R seat (co-pilot, flying) seemed to be following the Flight Director bars (as they appear/reappear intermittently and in a significant period of time with pitch up of 10 deg. or more) as noted on the R side stick inputs. This eventually resulted in a stall, and stall alarm initiating for a short period and then remaining on continuously for the period from 02 10 50Z (AOA starts increasing) to 02 11 45Z, (AOA at around 40+ deg.) and with forward speed decreasing and altitude decreasing rapidly. The right seat pilot (flying), even though with AOA increasing and in a (worsening) stall and with the stall alarm blaring continues to generally follow the Flight Director bars (when available and even with high pitch up commanded) as noted on the L PFD and the right side stick inputs. With reference to the BEA AF
447 incident simulation, even when a F/D commanded/displayed high pitch up was indicated, with (negative) vertical speed increasing, altitude decreasing rapidly, AOA increasing rapidly, forward speed decreasing rapidly, and a worsening stall, the right side side stick inputs generally attempted to follow the (commanded pitch up) F/D bars, even with commanded high pitch up of around 10 (or more) degrees.
Although already in a stall the AF
447 Flight Director bars (as available) continued to command a nose up pitch on the PFD, and which it appears the right seat pilot (flying) was generally following via right side stick inputs, despite the worsening stall and stall alarm still blaring? And by the time the Captain returned to the cockpit and eventually sorted out/figured out what was going on, and to command manual nose down pitch to break the stall (which all pilots are rigidly trained to do even in original training in Cessna 152’s or 172’s), it was too late.
IMO there may be a continuing issue with proper manual flight control (and lack of adequate simulator training regarding same) subsequent to A/P and A/T disconnect and a mode change to lower level flight control laws and protections, sorting out quickly via CRM what the instrumentation, alarms, and flight characteristics are indicating (or not indicating), and (manually) responding quickly and properly.
Aside that the “public” hasn’t seen any specific DFDR and CVR Flight 8501 preliminary data yet, IMO preliminary information as noted in the WSJ article may indicate potential similarities to the AF
447 incident (including weather related impact to some degree) regarding cockpit "confusion" in an evolution of manual flight control challenges/difficulties and CRM in a “saturated” emergency cockpit situation (and upon a loss of normal “automation”).