Air Asia Flight Goes Missing Over Java Sea

Search crews are scouring the Java Sea in a desperate attempt to locate an AirAsia Airbus A320-200 jet that went missing on Sunday morning during a flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore. Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air controllers near Belitung Island, Indonesia, shortly after the pilots requested a change in flight plan due to the unfavourable weather.
 
Image Source: ABC News
The AirAsia Indonesia flight had 162 people on board including sixteen children and one infant. It was scheduled to land in Singapore at 8:30am. According to Indonesian officials, the flight, which had been missing for more than nine hours, only had enough fuel to fly for 4.5 hours.

AirAsia is headquartered in Malaysia. The incident marks the third air incident this year for Malaysia, which suffered the loss of two Malaysia Airlines aircraft earlier this year, with one disappearing mysteriously over the South China Sea.

The aircraft was six years old and under the control of Air Traffic Control in Indonesia when it lost contact. It had been flying for about 42 minutes along the submitted flight plan before requesting to change direction due to weather enroute. Indonesian officials stated that the aircraft requested an increase in altitude from 32,000 to 38,000 feet in order to "avoid clouds." Thunderstorms had been reported in the area with clouds up to 50,000 feet.

AirAsia has not released any information except to state that it is monitoring the situation and that it intends to keep all parties informed. "At the present time, we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available," said AirAsia in a statement. It added that search and rescue operations were already in progress.

The missing aircraft carried the registration, PK-AXC. Of the 162 on board the aircraft, seven were crew members. According to the flight manifest released by Indonesian authorities, 156 of the passengers on board were Indonesian, 3 were from South Korea, and there was 1 passenger each from Singapore, France, and Malaysia. 

According to AirAsia, the Captain in command of the aircraft had a total of 6,100 hours of flying experience, while the First Officer had a total of 2,275 hours. The last scheduled maintenance performed on the aircraft was on November 16, 2014.

Although the exact location of the aircraft still remains unclear, it is believed to be somewhere over the Java Sea between the Java Islands and Kalimantan. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore was also informed of the missing aircraft by Jakarta ground control approximately thirty minutes after contact was lost.

Image Source: ABC News
Singapore has dispatched its air force and navy including two C-130 aircraft to assist in the search. "We remain ready to provide any assistance to support the search and rescue effort," said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. Indonesian military aircraft are currently searching the Java Sea.

Meanwhile, a special waiting area has been set up at Singapore's Changi Airport, with support and facilities available to friends and relatives of passengers on the aircraft that were awaiting their arrival. Dozens of relatives also gathered at Surabaya Airport, desperately hoping for news of loved ones.

An emergency phone line has been set up by AirAsia for friends and family to inquire about those that may have been on board the aircraft. The emergency number is +622-129-850-801. Meanwhile, Tony Fernandes, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Group, posted on his Twitter feed, "Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. We must stay strong."

Since its inception in 1994, AirAsia has been virtually incident free with no fatal accidents in its history. The carrier has been voted the World's Best Low-Cost Airline for the last six consecutive years at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards.

1 comment:

  1. Condolences to the families of the victims. Stay strong!

    ReplyDelete

Powered by Blogger.