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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Air Asia plane QZ8501 goes missing ! over Java sea ..

Perhaps all is not well with aviation this year 2014.  Reports suggest that Indonesian authorities launched then suspended for the night an air search for an AirAsia plane carrying 162 passengers and crew after it lost contact Sunday morning with air-traffic control. As night fell in Asia, Indonesian officials said they had spotted no sign of the plane in the area over the Java Sea but had to stop their search, hampered by bad weather and darkness. Flight QZ8501 — an Airbus A320-200 jet — was bound for Singapore but lost contact – the break in communications is reported to have occurred 42 minutes after takeoff from the Indonesian city of Surabaya and roughly an hour before its scheduled landing at Changi Airport, Indonesian authorities said.

AirAsia Berhad is a Malaysian low-cost airline headquartered near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. AirAsia group operates scheduled domestic and international flights to 100 destinations spanning 22 countries. AirAsia was built up from two planes in 2001 to an airline industry that operates more than 180 jets in just over a decade but now faces its biggest ever challenge.  Its dream run appears to have run sour with the reported missing of airbus 320 with 160 people on board.  The fate of the aircraft alongwith its occupants remains a mystery more than 16 hours after it disappeared in violent weather, authorities said.

Indonesia called off the air search for the night at about 7 a.m. ET- according to an official with the country's search and rescue agency and the search would resume at dawn tomorrow 29th Dec 2014.  "We don't dare to presume what has happened except that it has lost contact," said Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia's acting director general of transportation. Minutes before the plane disappeared from radar, the pilot asked air traffic control for permission to avoid a cloud bank by turning left and going higher, to 34,000 feet, Murjatmodjo said. "It's hard to say if 34,000 feet would have been enough" Roys said. "We know the thunderstorms were very tall, very high up. They could have encountered severe turbulence, strong wind sheer, lightning and even icing at that altitude."

A statement puts that the plane has six Indonesian crew, a French crew member and 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant. Among the passengers are three South Koreans, a Singaporean, a Malaysian and a Briton. The rest are Indonesians, the statement said. At Surabaya's Juanda International Airport, dozens of relatives sat in a room, many talking on mobile phones, crying and looking dazed as the hours dragged on without additional news. As word spread, more and more family members arrived at the crisis centre awaiting official announcement.   Another Indonesian official is quoted as saying that the plane is believed to have gone missing somewhere over the Java Sea between Tanjung Pandan on Belitung island and Pontianak, on Indonesia's part of Borneo island.

In its International fallout, Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, tweeted his condolences. In Washington, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said President Obama had briefed on the lost plane and that " White House officials will continue to monitor the situation."

AirAsia, which has dominated cheap travel in the region for years, has never lost a plane. The plane's captain reportedly had had a total of 6,100 flying hours.  The plane, with registration number PK-AXC, had its last scheduled maintenance Nov. 16, airline officials said.  Worldwide, 3,606 A320s are in operation, according to Airbus.  Other newsagencies report that this is the third major air incident for Southeast Asia this year.  One would not forget MH370, the Malaysian Airlines flight Boeing 777 that went missing soon after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. It remains missing with 239 people in one of the biggest aviation mysteries. This year also saw another Boeing 777 also Malaysia Airliner shot down at Ukraine when 298 people were killed.

Despite being the largest and most expensive search in aviation history, there has been no confirmation of any flight debris, resulting in many unofficial theories about its disappearance of MH 370.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Dec 2014.
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