Missing AirAsia plane likely ‘at the bottom of the sea’, says search chief. No distress call issued. Pray for QZ8501.

Frantic search for AirAsia flight missing after bad weather prompts change of course

Mystery over missing Airbus A320 carrying 162 people, including 17 children, continues as authorities in Indonesia suspend search efforts overnight

A massive sea search resumed this morning for an AirAsia passenger jet that disappeared with 162 on board while flying from Indonesia to Singapore through airspace thick with storm clouds, strong winds and lightning.

First Admiral Sigit Setiayana, the Naval Aviation Center commander at the Surabaya air force base, said that 12 navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and a number of warships were talking part, along with ships and planes from Singapore and Malaysia. The Australian Air Force also sent a search plane.

Setiaya said visibility was good. “God willing, we can find it soon,” he said.

Shares in the company this morning were down 11.56 per cent.

Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said at a press conference this morning: “Based on the coordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of  the sea. That’s the preliminary suspicion and it can develop based on the evaluation of the result of our search.”

Flight QZ8501 had taken off from Surabaya at 5.35am on Sunday, but lost contact 42 minutes into the journey, the reports said.

It issued no distress call, Indonesian officials had said.

The flight was bound for Singapore and was flying in cloudy weather. The Airbus A320-200 was carrying 162 people (155 passengers and seven crew), mostly Indonesians.

An AirAsia plane similar to Flight QZ8501 arrives at Changi airport terminal in Singapore on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Tatang Kurniadi, head of Indonesia’s National Committee of Safety Transportation, expressed hope of locating the aircraft quickly and said it was too early to detect any of the so-called electronic pings from its black box recorder.

“We are using our capacity to search on sea and land. Hopefully we can find the location of the plane as soon as possible,” he told a news conference.

Indonesian National Transportation Safety Board chief Tatang Kurniadi speaks to journalists during a press conference at Sukarno Hatta International airport. Photo: EPA

“What I need to emphasise is until now, we have not found out how the plane fell or what kind of emergency it was.”

There were also 17 children onboard, among them an infant, the general manager of Surabaya’s Juanda airport, Trikora Raharjo, said.

LIST: Names of passengers on Air Asia flight QZ8501

There were three South Koreans, including the baby; a Singaporean; a Briton; a Malaysian; and one French citizen. The rest were Indonesians, he said.

At Surabaya airport, dozens of relatives sat in a room, many of them talking on mobile phones and crying. Some looked dazed. As word spread, more and more family members were arriving at the crisis centre to await word.

The incident is the third aviation emergency involving Malaysian carriers this year. Last March, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished en route to Beijing, triggering a desperate search that lasted for months and the failure to find the wreckage leaving the passengers’ families in uncertainty.

Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country that lost the most nationals on MH370, said Beijing shares “deep concerns” over the safety of people on board QZ8501.

China’s embassies in Singapore and Indonesia were keeping track of the situation, she added.

Families and friends of passengers comfort each other as they wait for news of what happened to the flight. Photo: Reuters

Bian Liangwei, whose brother was on flight MH370, said on Sunday: “I hope all the people aboard the AirAsia flight are fine. After all, there’s no confirmation yet.”

Indonesian Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa said the aircraft lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6.17am local time.

A report in The Guardian, citing local news outlet Kompas.com, said the plane crashed in Belitung Island, about halfway between Surabaya and Singapore, but this had not been confirmed by officials.

Mustofa said the plane lost contact when it was believed to be over the Java Sea between Kalimantan and Java islands.

A relative of passengers weeps as she waits for the latest news on the missing jetliner at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya. Photo: AP

The plane had asked for an unusual route before it vanished, he said.

Joko Muryo Atmodjo, air transportation director at the Indonesia’s Transport Ministry, confirmed in a news conference that the pilots had requested to deviate from their original flight plan – intending to fly at 11,600 metres instead of 9,800 metres – to avoid clouds.

The plane did not send a distress signal, Atmodjo said.

“The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to en route weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian air traffic control,” AirAsia said in a statement.

Flightradar24, a flight tracking website, said the plane was delivered to the airline by Airbus in September 2008, which would make it six years old. It had recorded 23,000 flight hours on 13,600 flights. The website said the plane was flying at an altitude of 9,700 metres, the regular cruising altitude for most jetliners, when the signal from the plane was lost.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo speaks to the media about AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in Sorong, West Papua. Photo: Reuters

Airbus said it would provide full assistance to the investigation, and to the French authority BEA, which gets involved in such events because Airbus is France-based. A BEA spokeswoman said it was in touch with Indonesian authorities to see what assistance it could offer in the search and rescue, but had no further comment.

Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said search and rescue efforts now involved the army, the national Search and Rescue Agency as well as Singapore and Malaysia. But that the effort would focus on the area around Belitung island.

Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan, right, speaks at a press conference on AirAsia’s missing plane. Photo: AP

Air Force spokesman Hadi Tjahjanto said three aircraft, including a surveillance plane, had been dispatched to the area.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted confirmation of the disappearance, but did not give further details. The carrier has so far said in a series of statements that both captain and first officer were experienced, with combined flight hours of 8,375 hours.

The plane had undergone maintenance on November 16.

The flight had been due in Singapore at 8.30am. The Singapore airport said on its website the status of the flight was “delayed”.

AirAsia said on Sunday morning it was investigating what happened to Flight QZ8501 and that a search and rescue operation was “under way”.

“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,” the airline said.

An Indonesian air force helicopter prepares to search for the missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501, from a base in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan. Photo: Reuters

William Waldock, an expert on air crash search and rescue with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the United States, cautioned against drawing comparisons to the disappearance of Malaysia flight MH370.

“I think we have to let this play out,” he said. “Hopefully, the airplane will get found, and if that happens it will probably be in the next few hours. Until then, we have to reserve judgment.”

The circumstances bode well for finding the plane since the intended flight time was less than two hours and there is a known position at which the plane disappeared, he said.

AirAsia also established a hotline (+622 129 850 801) to help family members during the emergency.

This is the first time AirAsia has seen one of its aircraft go missing.

Air Asia’s flight tracker shows the airplane’s status as uncertain and confirms it had not yet arrived at its destination. Photo:

The Civil Aviation Authority, meanwhile, said they were informed about the flight dropping off from air traffic control radars at 7.54am, 30 minutes after the disappearance.

The White House said President Barack Obama, who grew up in Indonesia for part of his childhood, was briefed on the matter of the missing plane and that they were monitoring the situation.

Singapore, Malaysia, Britain, South Korea and Australia offered to help in the search and any investigation. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said it was sending vessels and a C130 aircraft while Singapore had also sent a C130. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said a P3 Orion aircraft was on standby if needed.

The fiance of a passenger on AirAsia flight QZ8501 speaks to the media at Singapore’s Changi Airport. Photo: Xinhua

It has been a troublesome year for airlines in Malaysia. The latest development comes just 10 months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370disappeared, in one of the worst airline disasters in recent history.

The Boeing 777-200ER from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing lost contact with air control and went missing more than a hour after it took off in the early hours of March 8.

The incident triggered an unprecedented international search and rescue operation that spanned from the southern Indian Ocean to Central Asia and involved more than two dozen countries.

Investigators months later concluded that the plane carrying 239 passengers and crew had crashed in the ocean.

Rohana, the mother of Khairunisa, a flight attendant on missing Air Asia Flight QZ8501, points at her daughter in a family photo in Palembang, South Sumatra, on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Just four months after MH370 vanished, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam crashed near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on July 17 after being hit by a surface-to-air missile.

Separatist pro-Russian forces and the Ukrainian government traded accusations over who is to blame for the attack on the Boeing 777-200 airliner.

The plane splintered into pieces after being hit, killing all 298 people on board the plane, mostly Dutch citizens.

With additional reports from Associated Press


PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 December, 2014, 11:32am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 December, 2014, 9:51pm


IN FULL: Passengers on Air Asia flight QZ 8501

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 December, 2014, 3:22pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 December, 2014, 3:33pm
 Staff Reporter

An Air Asia flight carrying 161 people went missing this morning after its pilots reportedly asked to fly higher in order to avoid clouds.

Flight QZ 8501 bound for Singapore had taken off from Surabaya at 5.35am on Sunday, but lost contact 42 minutes into the journey. It carried six crew members and 155 passengers – among them 16 children and one baby.

Many were Indonesians, but there were also South Koreans, a Singaporean, a Briton, a Malaysian and a French citizen onboard.


Iriyanto (Captain)

Remi Emmanuel Plesel (First Officer)

Saiful Rakhmad (Engineer)

Flight Attendants:

Wanti Setiawati
Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi
Oscar Desano
Wismoyo Ari Prambudi

Passengers (click to enlarge):

You can also download the transport ministry’s copy here: Passenger Manifest

Sources: Detik.com, Metro TV, Indonesian Ministry of Transportation

#PrayforQZ8501  #TripleDisasterPremonition  #QZ8501

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Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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