Official: AirAsia Flight QZ8501 likely at ‘bottom of the sea’ – @Macfarlane123

The missing AirAsia jet probably
crashed into the sea, Indonesia’s top rescue
official said Monday, citing radar data from the
plane’s last contact.
“Our early conjecture is that the plane is in the
bottom of the sea,” Bambang Sulistyo, head of
Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency,
told reporters, saying the view was based on the
plane’s flight track and last known coordinates.
But searchers still don’t know exactly where the
aircraft is, he said, and may need help from other
countries for an underwater search.
The search for AirAsia Flight QZ8501 resumed on
Monday, a day after the commercial jet
disappeared in Indonesian airspace with 162
people aboard.
Ships, planes and helicopters are looking for the
missing aircraft, according to Indonesian
authorities, who are leading the search and
rescue operations.
It’s unclear if weather played a role in
the aircraft’s disappearance, but
rescuers say it could be a factor that
influences how quickly they find the
plane.
Large waves and clouds hampered the
search for the plane on Sunday, the
agency said. By Monday morning,
weather in the area appeared to be
clearing up, CNN International
meteorologist Tom Sater said.
Authorities say they’re combing a
“very broad search area.”
What role did weather play?
Report: Higher altitude request denied
AirAsia says air traffic controllers lost contact
with the aircraft at 7:24 a.m. Sunday Singapore
time (6:24 a.m. in Indonesia).
The plane, flying from the Indonesian city of
Surabaya to Singapore, went missing as it flew
over the Java Sea between the islands of Belitung
and Borneo — a heavily traveled shipping channel
with shallow waters — Indonesian authorities
said.
Before the plane, an Airbus A320-200 , lost contact
with air traffic controllers, one of the pilots asked
to change course and fly at a higher altitude
because of bad weather, officials said. Heavy
thunderstorms were reported in the area at the
time.
Air traffic control approved the pilot’s request to
turn left but denied permission for the plane to
climb to 38,000 feet from 32,000 feet, Djoko
Murjatmodjo, an aviation official at the Indonesian
Transport Ministry told the national newspaper
Kompas.
The increased altitude request was
denied because there was another
plane flying at that height, he said.
In addition to Indonesia’s teams,
several other countries have joined the
hunt for the missing plane.
A C-130 plane from Singapore has
been participating in the search, and
the country’s military says it’s
sending two more ships to the search
area. Malaysia’s transportation
minister said his country has deployed
three vessels and three aircraft to
assist in the search. And the Royal
Australian Air Force said Monday that it was
deploying a patrol plane to help.
The U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet said it stands ready
to assist the search efforts but so far hasn’t been
asked to help.
Indonesia has reached out to the United Kingdom,
France and the United States for help with sonar
technology that may be needed for an underwater
search, Sulistyo told reporters Monday.
AirAsia CEO takes to Twitter
Anxious wait for relatives
After hours of waiting in anguish for any word
about the passengers aboard the missing plane,
several dozen of their family members met with
airport and airline officials in a closed-door
briefing Monday at the airport in Surabaya.
As they waited for news, some relatives took cell
phone pictures of a flight manifest posted on a
wall. The black-and-white papers showed every
passenger’s name and seat number, but not their
fate.
Others simply sat and dabbed tears from their
eyes.
Oei Endang Sulsilowati and her daughter were
looking for information about her brother, his wife
and their two children.
“We don’t know what to do,” Sulsilowati said.
“We are just waiting for news.”
“Our concern right now is for the relatives and the
next of kin,” AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said
during a news conference in Surabaya.
Fernandes confirmed that storm
clouds caused the pilot to ask for a
change in flight plan, but added, “We
don’t want to speculate whether
weather was a factor. We really don’t
know.” Once the aircraft is found,
there will be a proper investigation, he
said.
Of the people on board the passenger
jet, 155 are Indonesian, three are
South Korean, one is British, one is
French, one is Malaysian and one is
Singaporean, the airline said.
Eighteen children, including one infant,
are among the passengers, the carrier said.
Seven of the people on board are crew members.
Families of AirAsia flight passengers given
support through the ‘nightmare’
The MH370 mystery
AirAsia, a successful budget airline group
headquartered in Malaysia, had a clean safety
record until the disappearance of Flight 8501. The
missing plane is operated by the company’s
Indonesian affiliate.
The loss of contact with the plane comes nearly
10 months after the disappearance of Malaysia
Airlines Flight 370, which dropped off radar over
Southeast Asia on March 8 with 239 people on
board.
Searchers have yet to find any remains of Flight
370, which officials believe went down in the
southern Indian Ocean after mysteriously flying
thousands of kilometers away from its planned
route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
But some aviation experts don’t think the search
for Flight 8501 will be as challenging as the hunt
for MH370.
“We are not talking about the deep Indian Ocean
here,” CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest
said. “We are talking about congested airspace
around Southeast Asia. There will be much better
radar coverage. There’s certainly better air traffic
control coverage.”
AirAsia and MH370 cases are very different