An AirAsia jet that was carrying 162 people on Sunday went missing mid-flight. Indonesian agency says the plane could have sank to the bottom of the sea.
The Indonesian agency also warned that they didn’t have proper equipment to do an underwater search for the AirAsia jet.
“The capability of our equipment is not optimum,” Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, said at a news conference.
Australia, Singapore and Malaysia joined in the search for the missing AirAsia flight. This is nine months after a Malaysian Airline jetliner disappeared while crossing the Indian Ocean.
The Airbus A320-200, a regional budget carrier located in Malaysia, is operated by the Indonesian Affiliate of AirAsia. They claimed that contact between the AirAsia jet and ground controllers off the coast of Borneo was lost early Sunday. It was too soon to relate the flight with the disappearance of the Malaysian jetliner in March. However, AirAsia jet, Flight 8501, vanished from radar screens only 40 minutes after it took off from Surabaya around 5:30 a.m.
On Monday morning, the authorities stated that there were no signs of wreckage. The weather along the path Flight 8501 took was cloudy, and there were numerous lightning strikes reported along the way. However, the monsoon conditions didn’t seem it would overcome the modern airliner.
According to Flightradar24.com data, there were six other flights in the area when Flight 8501 disappeared. A 100-mile stretch of the Java Sea was being searched near the island of Belitung, which is situated between Sumatra and Borneo, where the plane was last located on radar.
Right before contact was lost, the cockpit crew told air traffic controllers in Jakarta that they were going to lift the plane from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet, so to avoid a cloud.
“We don’t know where the exact location is, except that this morning at 6:17, we lost contact,” Mr. Djoko said. The Singapore authorities said contact was lost at 6:24 a.m. Jakarta time; the discrepancy was not explained.
According to the newspaper Kompas in Indonesia, Mr.Djoko stated that the plane’s request to divert was approved, but the air traffic controllers had denied the request due to traffic.
No emergency distress beacons that are normally triggered by an accident were detected by authorities.
The lightning strikes that were recorded along the flight’s path could have struck the airliner, but it’s rare for it to cause extreme structural damage. However, it could have disrupted navigation systems, like magnetic compasses. Sudden shifts in wind from the storm could also disrupt airflow through the engine of the jet, possibly causing it to shut down. But it is unlikely for both engines to shut down simultaneously in such a situation.
The investigation for the AirAsia jet is still ongoing.