Early Sunday morning, an AirAsia passenger jet, carrying 162 people, lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control after departing from Surabaya, Indonesia. The disappearance of the aircraft marks the second missing plane crisis for Southeast Asia in less than a year.
According to officials, the investigation into the disappearance of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 will resume Monday morning after several hours of searching failed to provide any further clues about the its location.
“The plane has lost contact at 06:17 a.m. local time,” states Djoko Murdjatmojo, the Indonesian Transportation Ministry’s acting director general for air transportation affairs.
Shortly beforehand, the flight’s captain had asked to fly at a higher altitude due to bad weather conditions. The aircraft, which was headed to Singapore, went missing as it flew over the Java Sea, between Belitung and Borneo. At 6:18 am, the flight disappeared from radar observations, prompting air traffic control officers to monitor its presence until 7:55 am. According to the Indonesian Transportation Ministry, big ships will continue to keep their searchlights on, although the search operation has been halted for the night.
Meanwhile, loved ones gathered at the airport in Surabaya, as they waited for any new updates. Of the people on the flight, 155 are Indonesian, three are South Korean, one is French, one is British and one is Singaporean. There are also seventeen children and seven crewmembers on board.
In the meantime, William Waldock, an expert of air crash search, remains hopeful. Considering the circumstances, he believes there is a good chance the plane will be located – especially since the flight time was less than two hours, and there is a known position of the plane’s disappearance.
CNN aviation analyst, Mary Schiavo, also mentions that if there was an emergency, the pilots would have issued a mayday or pan-pan call.
“Mayday means you’re immediately in danger of losing the flight; pan-pan means that it is urgent but that you can continue the flight and request an alternate route or an alternate airport.”
“It’s disconcerting in that the standard procedures for an emergency don’t seem to have been deployed,” said Schiavo.