AirAsia Flight 8501. Photo: AFP A faulty component, a poor maintenance regime, bad weather, a critical mistake, a communication failure, 162 people dead. The loss of AirAsia Flight 8501 on a stormy December morning a year ago, from an airline that previously had an excellent safety record, came as a shock, even in a country with one of the world’s worst aviation records. This was a relatively new plane, captained by a pilot with a decade of experience in the air force and more than 9,000 hours flying commercial jets. Yet interviews with pilots, air traffic controllers, flight trainers and regulators show that the combination of mistakes and failures that doomed those on board show why Indonesia still has more than three times the global average rate of fatal air crashes. In the past few years, Indonesia has redoubled efforts to improve that record, but the challenges are enormous. The country has a shortage of skilled pilots, ground crew and air traffic controllers. Equipment and planes are often outdated or not working. Many of its 296 airports are under par or have runways that are too short. And the terrain of 17,000 islands, dotted with volcanoes, makes for some of the most treacherous flying conditions in the world. When a fatal crash does occur — and the country averages more than one a year — the blame often falls on the pilots, after investigators painstakingly try to recreate the last moments of the flight from debris and the flight recorders….