INDONESIA AirAsia flight QZ8501 went missing yesterday morning between Surabaya and Singapore in the third incident to hit Malaysian carriers this year.
The plane was carrying 162 passengers and became uncontactable approximately one hour after it departed Surabaya’s international airport at 22.35 GMT yesterday, after pilots requested permission to climb higher to avoid bad weather occurring along the intended flight path, said AirAsia.
Indonesian minister of transportation, Ignasius Jonan, promised at a press conference this morning the work will not end until the missing aircraft is found but Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency chief, Bambang Soelistyo, virtually ruled out the chances of a happy ending, saying the plane is likely at the bottom of the sea.
An international search mission consisting of manpower from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia has been launched, and Australia and South Korea have also extended offers of assistance. China’s foreign minister has said China is willing to send planes and ships for the joint effort.
Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group, arrived in Jakarta yesterday. In an earlier statement, he had said: “The aircraft was in a good condition to fly. It went through maintenance in November 2014 and it has never had any problem.
“The captain in command was a very experienced pilot with 20,537 flying hours, of which 6,100 flying hours were with Indonesia AirAsia. Safety is top priority for us and in the 18 years of business we have not lost a life.”
Indonesia AirAsia will retire the QZ8501 air code, though it has said it would take time to take effect.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Jonan’s office is looking into Indonesia AirAsia’s operational procedures as well as commercial airline regulations.