AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Missing: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


Original story below.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501

Family members of passengers of missing Malaysian air carrier AirAsia flight QZ8501 gather at Juanda international airport in Surabaya. (Getty)

An AirAsia passenger plane lost contact with airport officials Sunday morning while flying from Indonesia to Singapore, marking yet another aviation disaster in Southeast Asia.

The airline announced Sunday that it was fully cooperating with a search and rescue operation, which resumed Monday morning after being suspended as darkness fell on the area Sunday night.

Here’s what we know so far:

1. The Plane Lost Contact While Flying Over the Java Sea

AirAsia confirmed in a statement that the plane lost contact with air traffic control while flying over the Java Sea from Surbaya, Indonesia to Singapore at 7:24 a.m. local time — a little more than an hour before it was scheduled to land at 8:30 a.m.

The airline said it had “no further information” on the status of the crew and passengers of the plane, an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC.

The plane’s last known location was near Belitung Island in the Java Sea.

The unknown status of the plane comes five months after a Malaysia Airlines passenger flight was shot down by pro-Russian separatists over Eastern Ukraine and nine months after a different Malaysia Airlines flight went missing over the Indian Ocean and was never found.

2. Search & Rescue Operations Are ‘In Progress’

AirAsia Flight QZ8501

A relative shows a picture of passengers who were travelling on the missing on AirAsia Flight QZ8501. (Getty)

AirAsia said it was cooperating fully with search and rescue operations, which began shortly after the flight disappeared.

From AirAsia’s statement:

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

AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.

Shortly after releasing the statement, the airline changed its logo on its social media accounts from bright red to gray.

3. There Are 162 People on Board

AirAsia said in a statement that there were 155 passengers on board, along with two pilots and a five-member cabin crew.

The nationalities of those on board are as follows, according to AirAsia:

1 Singapore
1 Singapore
1 Malaysia
3 South Korea
1 United Kingdom
149 Indonesia

Nationalities of crew:
1 France
6 Indonesia

AirAsia said the captain had 6,100 total flying hours and the first officer had a total of 2,275.

The aviation journal Omni Flyers tweeted posted the flight’s manifest, which included 16 children, one infant and 23 no-shows.

4. AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes Has Been Tweeting Frequent Updates

Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Flight QZ8501

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes speaks at a press conference Sunday. (Getty)

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes has been tweeting frequent updates.

Fernandes, who’s also the chairman of the Queens Park Rangers football club in the English Premier League, tweeted that the flight’s disappearance was his “worst nightmare” and said that he would be there through the hard times as the airline’s staff and the families of those on board coped.

5. The Pilot Requested an Alternate Route Because of Weather

AirAsia said that the pilot had requested an alternate route because of severe weather in the area.

From the airline’s statement:

The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC).

The aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November 2014.

It’s monsoon season in the region, and radar showed thunderstorms throughout the area during the time of the flight.

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