A glimpse of hope remains for Air Asia's missing aircraft after some experts were talking about a possible water landing.
This is an update on eTN's initial report on the missing AirAsia Indonesia plane with 162 people on board that has gone missing on its way from Surabaya to Singapore. This happened after the pilot of this flight requested to deviate from its flight path due to weather. eTN mentioned local media reports about wreckages of this plane found. It turns out these reports are wrong and were based on rumors.
There were 155 passengers on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots and 5 cabin crew.
Nationalities of passengers and crew onboard are: 1 Singapore 1 Malaysia 3 South Korean 157 Indonesia
Search and rescue operations have been suspended for the night; they will resume tomorrow.
However search ships are not returning to ports but are continuing with limited operation during the night.
More than 12 hours after the plane went missing, there has been no confirmation search teams have found a crash site, with Malaysia's Minister of Transport Seri Liow Tiong Lai dismissing in a press conference on Sunday evening reports the plane had been located.
Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency said in a statement on Sunday evening the plane was last tracked around the island of Belitung, at the coordinates 03°22’15" South and 109°41’28" East.
Flight QZ8501's pilot had reportedly requested permission to increase altitude from 32,000 feet to 34,000 feet because of cloudy weather in the area. Weather maps showed storms across the region.
The plane had seven crew members and 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant, according to AirAsia's Facebook statement. The majority of those on board were Indonesian, but there were three South Koreans and one each from Singapore, United Kingdom, France and Malaysia. There were 23 no-shows, according to the flight manifest.
The captain in command had 20,537 flying hours in total and 6,100 flying hours with the airline and the first officer had 2,275 flying hours, according to AirAsia. The aircraft last underwent maintenance on Nov. 16.
Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia's acting director general of transportation, told reporters no distress signal had been sent. 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 Kalimantan island, he said.
AirAsia Indonesia is an affiliate of budget carrier AirAsia, which is based in Malaysia. AirAsia has been considered one of the safest options in the region, with reportedly no fatal accidents involving their planes.
Indonesia's overall air safety record is poor due to various incidents, with many of the country's carriers banned in the European Union.
AirAsia operates a relatively young fleet of aircraft, almost all of which are some variation of the A320 model that disappeared. It is one of the youngest and fastest growing airlines in the Southeast Asia market, with plans to expand into India.
The Airbus A320 is one of the most popular single-aisle jetliners in the world, and is in wide use in the U.S. Like its main rival, the Boeing 737, the A320 has had fatal accidents before, but none involving the loss of all passengers.
The A320 has a similar flight-deck design and aircraft systems as the larger Airbus A330. An Air France Airbus A330 crashed while flying in the vicinity of thunderstorms on June 1, 2009, northeast of Brazil, killing 228. That crash was blamed on faulty instruments and pilot error.
While there have been accidents since the A320 entered operation in 1996, it is widely regarded as one of the safest aircraft in the sky. A recent Boeing study found 0.14 fatalities per million departures for the A320 family.
A Dual national British citizen on board missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 is Chi-Man Choi, the BBC reported.
It is thought he is with his two-year-old daughter on the plane, which was flying from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board when it went missing in the early hours of Sunday.
The UK Foreign Office earlier confirmed a British national was on the flight and their family had been informed.
"Our thoughts are with the passengers' families," the UK Foreign Service Office said.
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond tweeted: "My thoughts are with the family and friends of all those on board Air Asia flight QZ8501."
A spokesman for the British Embassy in Jakarta said it was working with local authorities to establish further details.
The US Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted: "Our hearts and hopes are with the passengers and families of AirAsia QZ8501."