Air Asia ‘search and rescue’ mission

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 28 Desember 2014 | 20.01

An AirAsia flight flying from Indonesia to Singapore has reportedly lost contact with air traffic control.

An AirAsia Airbus A320-200 has lost contact with air traffic control. Source: Supplied

The families of passengers aboard the missing AirAsia flight QX 8501 react with shock in Surabaya and Jakarta. Courtesy: TV One Indonesia/ Metro TV

THE search for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 has been called off for the day.

An Indonesian Transport Ministry official said the search was called off for the evening due to dark, cloudy conditions.

No Australian's were believed to be on board.

Planes from Indonesia and Singapore had been scouring an area of sea between Kalimantan and Java earlier, according to theBBCas Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered Australia's support.

There were 155 passengers and seven crew on board the flight when it lost contact with air traffic control just after taking off from Indonesia on Sunday morning.

It had been due to land in Singapore around 11.30am AEDT

Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered has phoned Indonesian President Joko Widodo and offered an Australian plane to join the search for AirAsia QZ8501.

Mr Abbott told the Indonesian President a P3 Orion and crew had been placed on standby to assist with the mission.

Mr Widodo said he would order his Defence Minister to speak with Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews to determine if Australia would be required to assist.

He told Mr Abbott he was aware how much work Australia had done in the region, particularly with MH370.

Mr Abbott said Australia would do whatever "we humanly could" to assist.

A letter from Prime Minister Tony Abbott's office to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. Source: Supplied

Singapore authorities had also offered to help with a major search and rescue operation for the missing flight.

Airbus released a statement offering its full co-operation with the ongoing investigation into the flight which was travelling from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore when it disappeared off the radar.

There were 155 passengers and seven crew on-board.

Air Asia A320-200, the same model plane which has gone missing in Indonesia. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul) Source: AP

Unconfirmed reports suggest debris of a crashed plane may have been spotted near East Belitung.

Channel News Asia and reports that the flight may have crashed in waters about 80 to 100 nautical miles from Belitung.

The International Business Times reports local fishermen heard a loud bang over the area between 7am and 8am local time.

However there is no news from Air Asia to confirm the citing is possibly the missing QZ8501 flight.

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

It vanished just 42 minutes into the three-and-half-hour flight to Singapore.

He said the plane, an Airbus A320-200, had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact.

The plane requested a flight path change due to bad weather just before contact was lost, Air Asia has confirmed.

The pilot reportedly asked to increase its altitude from 32,000ft to 38,000 ft to "avoid clouds".

The flight was due in Singapore around 11.30am AEDT.

CNN reported AirAsia now classified the incident as a search and rescue operation.

"At this time, search and rescue operations are being conducted under the guidance of the Indonesian Civil Aviation Authority," AirAsia told CNN.

But the plane is still yet to be located.

The Singapore Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC), a conglomerate of air agencies including the country's air force and navy, has offered support to Indonesia to help search for and locate the missing flight.

In a statement, Airbus said it regretted to confirm the A320-200 had gone missing.

The manufacturer said the twin-engine single-aisle aircraft could seat up to 180 passengers and came off the 2008 production line and had done 23,000 flight hours on around 13,600 flights.

"Airbus will provide full assistance to the French safety investigation authority, BEA, and to the authorities in charge of the investigation," the statement said.

"Airbus will make further factual information available as soon as the details have been confirmed and cleared by the authorities."

Relatives of passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501 comfort each other at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia. Source: AP

A relative of an Air Asia flight QZ8501 passenger weeps as she waits for the latest news on the missing jetliner at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia. Source: AP

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the plane was more than 200 nautical miles south east from Singaporean airspace at the time.

An Air Asia statement late this afternoon said there were 156 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one each from Malaysia, Singapore and France on the flight which included flight crew.

Indonesia Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan told a media conference the plane went missing not far from the shoreline between Tanjung Pandan and Pontianak.

The search would begin there and then widen, the Minister said, before going to meet with families of those on-board.

Before the confirmation of the nationalities Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian government was urgently seeking more details about the Air Asia flight.

Speaking to the Herald Sun, Ms Bishop said she had been in touch with the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and the High Commission in Singapore and her office was attempting to confirm if there were any Australians on board.

Initial reports say no Australians were aboard an AirAsia flight that's lost air traffic control contact.

An electronic sign board shows information for AirAsia flight QZ8501 bound for Singapore International Airport on December 28, 2014. Panicked family members have arrived at Surabaya Airport seeking information. Source: AFP

She told a news conference tonight Australia had offered to assist in the search and rescue operation but hadn't had a response yet from Indonesia or Singapore.

Ms Bishop had also requested the manifest to see if there were any dual citizens or permanent residents on the flight.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade added anyone who had concerns about the welfare of their Australian family and friends should contact its 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1 300 555 135 (or +61 2 6261 3305 if calling from overseas.

The Singapore Airforce has sent two C-130 aircraft to aircraft's last reported site, near Belitung Island in the Java Sea, according to The Daily Telegraph.

AirAsia says the pilot of missing flight QZ8501 had requested flight 'deviation' due to bad weather.

The blue line shows where contact was lost. Picture: Flightradar24.c0m Source: Supplied

There was reported bad weather in the area Air Asia flight QZ8501 last had contact. Source: Supplied

Oscar Desano is listed as a flight attendant on board the AirAsia flight. Source: Supplied

Oscar Desano is listed as a flight attendant on board the AirAsia flight which lost contact with air control between Indonesia and Singapore on Sunday.

In a post to his Twitter account on Christmas Eve, he wrote: "Merry Christmas to all my beautiful friends who celebrate it"

He has posted many tweets earlier in the year about MH17 and MH370 disasters.

One read: "My deep condolences also for the (passengers') family, may all the casualties rest in peace ..."

As concerned relatives began arriving at Surabaya Airport, officials posted a list of those on-board.

In a statement Air Asia said a search was currently underway.

"At this time, search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service."

Air Asia said there were two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer on board. The pilot had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer 2, 275 flying hours.

The plane, registration PK-AXC, last had maintenance on November 16.

Of the people on-board there were 138 adults, sixteen children and one infant.

Air Asia is Malaysia's low-cost airline based in Kuala Lumpur, however the missing jet is from the Indonesian subsidiary.

The company is based in KL, and is considered a good airline with an impeccable safety record.

The disappearance of QZ8501 is the third major incident involving an Asian airline this year.

MH370 went missing on March 8 with 239 passengers on board and was flying from Kuala Lumpur, to Beijing in China.

Despite an extensive search, no trace of the plane has yet been found.

Then in July, MH17 was shot down by a missile over rebel-held Ukraine with 28 Australians among the 298 dead.

Meanwhile Air Asia has changed its Facebook profile picture from red to grey after announcing the disappearance of the A320-200.

Air Asia's chief executive Tony Fernandes wrote on Twitter: "Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. We must stay strong."

As well as the Malaysia and Indonesian subsidiaries Air Asia also operates out of Thailand and India.

It employs more than 15,000 people and, according to its website, carries 250 million passengers a year and operates 160 aircraft.

It has won the world's best low cost airline award in the World Airline Survey by Skytrax since 2009.

An Emergency Call Centre has been set up for family or friends of those on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.

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