AirAsia crash: Search personnel fail to lift plane’s tail



Jakarta (IANS): A senior official at Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) Friday said the operation to lift the tail of the crashed AirAsia plane was hindered by heavy weather.

“The efforts are yet to succeed due to strong undersea stream and low visibility suffered by the divers as weather has changed fiercely at the location,” Director of Operation and Training of Basarna, S.B. Supriyadi told Xinhua news agency over phone.

He said that the military team tasked to lift up parts of the plane’s wreckage found that sands and mud has poured into the wreckage, making parts planned to be lifted up heavier than initial calculations by the team.

“The weight of the parts we planned to lift up has increased from 10 to 30 tonnes. Now the team is making new calculations to ensure the success of its operation,” Supriyadi said.

The Indonesian military has prepared a crane with a lifting capacity of 70 tonnes and huge balloons to facilitate the operation.

The official said that the operation to lift the tail would resume Saturday should the weather be favourable to the mission. The search for the black boxes has been declared as priority of the operation.

Basarnas chief F.B. Soelistyo said earlier Friday that the aim of lifting up the tail was to check whether the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, known as black boxes, were still in place. Pings that possibly emitted from the plane’s black boxes were detected early Friday.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crashed in the Java Sea near the Karimata Strait Dec 28 en route from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 passengers and crew aboard, including 155 Indonesians.

Meanwhile, three more bodies of those who perished in the were found Friday by the international search teams, pushing the total of recovered bodies to 46.

“In total, we have found 46 bodies out of the 162 passengers of the plane,” Antara news agency quoted an Indonesian rescue official as saying.

He noted that the three bodies found by the Japanese ships JS Katanami and JS Onami have already been transported to a hospital in the Kalimantan province of Indonesia’s Borneo island.






Jakarta (IANS): Indonesia’s rescue agency chief said Thursday his team will raise the tail of the crashed AirAsia plane out of the water Friday to retrieve the black box, while three more bodies were recovered on Thursday.

The AirAsia Airbus A320-200 vanished from radar screens Dec 28 en route from Indonesia’s second-largest city Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board.

Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, told a press conference that the tail where the black box is attached will be lifted by floating balloons or by crane Friday if the weather was favourable, Xinhua news agency reported.

Sonar and divers located the tail in the secondary search area Wednesday, lying upside down and partly buried in the mud 34 metres underwater.

Divers were struggling to reach the tail Thursday morning to locate the black box. However, with the underwater current reaching five knots and the visibility being less than one metre, divers failed to pass through the choppy area, Soelistyo said.

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders of flight QZ8501 are crucial to helping determine the cause of the jet crash. Ping-emitting beacons in the black boxes still have about 20 days of battery life, but high waves had prevented searchers from using ping locators, which are dragged by ships.

Soelistyo said the top priority at the moment was still the search for bodies.

Three more bodies were retrieved by Thursday, bringing the total to 44.

Soelistyo had believed that many of the others are still trapped inside the wreckage of the plane, however, divers did not find any bodies when reaching the tail Wednesday.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi expressed her deepest condolences to all the families of the QZ8501 victims during her annual press statement in Jakarta Thursday.

She said the Indonesian government has done and would continue to do everything in its power to deal with this tragedy.

“Allow me also to convey my gratitude and highest appreciation to all the governments of friendly countries for their support and assistance,” she said.

Two Japanese ships which were part of the multinational search effort involving the US, Russia, China and other countries, would end their mission Friday, Soelistyo added.

Two Chinese rescue vessels have left for Pangkalan Bun, a town on Borneo island’s Central Kalimantan province closest to the wreckage days ago and is expected to arrive Friday.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Wednesday that China was ready to send additional forces to help search the plane and victims according to the needs of Indonesia.

Bad weather is believed to a contributing factor of the crash. Just before losing contact, the pilot told air traffic control he was approaching threatening clouds, but was denied permission to climb a higher altitude because of heavy traffic. No distress signal was issued.

Indonesia’s meteorological agency said earlier that the weather was the “triggering factor” in the crash of the plane as icing might have damaged the engine although the final cause would be announced by the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) after examining the data from black box.

Indonesian Transport Ministry has suspended the carrier’s Surabaya-Singapore license, citing the QZ8501 flight did not have permission to fly the route.

AirAsia Indonesia, 49 percent owned by the Malaysia-based AirAsia, has said it was fully cooperating with Indonesian authorities for investigation and would fulfill the obligation to compensate the families of those killed with some 1.25 billion Indonesia rupiah (around $100,000).



Jakarta (IANS): The tail of AirAsia plane which crashed into the Java Sea December 28, 2014, with 162 people on board has been found, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency chief said Wednesday.

“We have successfully obtained part of the plane that we were looking for. The tail’s portion has been confirmed found,” said Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, Xinhua reported.

The AirAsia flight disappeared from radar screens on Dec 28 en route to Singapore from from Indonesia’s Surabaya with 155 passengers and seven crew on board.

The discovery of the tail is considered a major breakthrough in the search for the missing plane as it usually houses the black boxes – the flight data and voice recorders, which are crucial to identify the cause of a crash.

So far, 39 bodies have been recovered from the sea waters and five large parts believed to be from the jetliner have been detected as the search operation was hindered by unfavourable weather conditions.

Indonesia’s meteorological agency said earlier that the weather was the “triggering factor” in the crash of the plane as icing might have damaged the engine.



Jakarta, Jan 6 (IANS) Recovery teams Tuesday found two more bodies and located two large metal objects on the sea bed as they expanded the search area for the ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501 that crashed into the Java Sea Dec 28 carrying 162 people on board.

So far, 39 bodies of the total 162 people on board have been recovered since the plane crashed into the Java Sea Dec 28 as the operation got hindered by unfriendly sea conditions.

“Strong current has pushed the victims and debris eastwards and forced the rescuers to expand the search area by about 100 square miles (260 sq km),” Xinhua quoted Indonesia search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo as saying in a press conference on the 19th day of the rescue operation that involves several countries.

Soelistyo said there was still the possibility of finding more bodies as some could still be trapped in the main body of the aircraft despite the fact that they are undergoing some after-death changes in waters.

Two large objects have been identified by US Fort Worth ship during Tuesday’s operation, Soelistyo said, however, the strong current hindered the operation of remotely operated underwater vehicles and divers’ attempts to investigate the debris.

The recovery teams have yet to locate the black box, which is crucial for identifying the cause of the crash, although five big parts, which is believed to be from the plane, have been detected days ago.

Indonesia’s meteorological agency said earlier that the weather was the “triggering factor” in the crash of the plane as icing might have damaged the engine.

AirAsia Indonesia, 49 percent owned by the Malaysia-based AirAsia, has been suspended from flying the Surabaya-Singapore route.

“No pings have been detected from the box, the reason could be complicated,” Chinese aviation expert Mao Yanfeng told Xinhua at Jakarta international airport, citing either the internal failure of the black box or the signal being impeded by mud in the seabed.

Three experts from China’s Civil Aviation Administration arrived in Jakarta early Tuesday and are expected to arrive at Pangkalan Bun, a town on Borneo island’s Central Kalimantan province with the nearest airstrip to the plane wreckage on the same day.

Mao Yanfeng, also the director for disaster investigation in China’s Civil Aviation Administration, said the mission to Indonesia is hunting for the black box, and the portable underwater detection equipment have been brought along.

Mao is positive on finding the box, and said “the side-scan sonar could also locate the Black Box, even after 30 days when the box goes dead”.

Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, aircraft with 155 passengers and seven crew members on board crash soon after taking off from Surabaya Dec 28 en route to Singapore’s Changi airport. The debris were spotted Dec 30.



Bangkok (IANS): International search teams Monday found three more bodies even as strong sea currents Monday hampered the search for the black boxes and bodies of more victims of the AirAsia plane that crashed Dec 28, 2014 with 162 people on board.

Despite improved surface weather conditions, the currents prevented divers and unmanned submarines equipped with cameras from descending into the waters, EFE reported.

Their objective was to confirm if the large objects spotted by radar in the Java Sea at a depth of 30 metres and measuring between seven-10 metres in size belong to the Airbus 320-200 aircraft that took off on ill-fated flight QZ8510.

Rescue teams have so far recovered 37 bodies. A helicopter of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue agency picked up the bodies found earlier in the day by a Malaysian navy ship, Xinhua reported.

According to authorities, one of those bodies was of a woman, the remaining two are yet to be identified.

The bodies were rushed to the Imanuddin hospital in the central Kalimantan province of Indonesia’s Borneo island before being transported to Surabaya, where the ill-fated aircraft had taken off for Singapore.

Suryadi Supriyadi, Indonesia’s director of national search and rescue operations, said Sunday that, in his opinion, the black boxes will be found near the submerged parts of the plane in which some passengers may have been trapped in their seats.

Meanwhile, mud on the seabed was also preventing the teams from locating signals from the black boxes that can be detected at distances of 2,000-3,000 metres under optimal conditions.

The batteries of the black boxes are expected to run out by Jan 27.

Four large objects believed to be of the plane were found Saturday, the biggest one being 18 metres long.

Another large object – 9.8 metres long, 1.1 metres wide and 0.4 metre high – was found by Indonesian teams Sunday.

A total of 27 ships and 20 aircraft from different countries are participating in the search and rescue operations, said the Indonesian agency.

In its report Saturday, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that the accident was most likely due to engine damage caused by ice forming on the aircraft as it passed through a cloud.

Indonesian authorities have criticised AirAsia Indonesia for not having obtained permission to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route Sunday when the accident occurred and also because the pilot was allegedly not informed about the weather conditions in person by the BMKG.

Some pilots allege that the BMKG lacks the capacity to attend to all the pilots in person and instead posts critical information on its website.

“The fact is that the management of the Indonesian aviation system has for years been a dangerous life-threatening mess and urgently needs a total overhaul from corrupt officials to obsolete technology and equipment,” said an editorial in the Indonesian daily Jakarta Globe.

“It’s crazy to think that the pilot used outdated weather information 10 hours or even a day late, even as the weather changes constantly, especially with climate change becoming very real,” it added.

AirAsia flight QZ8501 took off from Surabaya on Java island Dec 28 and was scheduled to reach Singapore some two hours later.

The plane’s passengers included 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, a Briton, a Frenchman, a Malaysian and a Singaporean, along with a crew of seven.

The pilot called Indonesian air traffic control and sought permission to swerve left and make a climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid a storm.

Air traffic controllers gave permission to turn left but were unable to establish contact with the plane when they called a few minutes later to approve a climb to 34,000 feet.




Jakarta (IANS): International search teams Sunday found in the sea bodies of four more people who were on board the AirAsia jet which crashed Dec 28, taking the number of bodies recovered so far to 34.

A Seahawk helicopter of the US navy delivered three bodies to the evacuation command post of the crashed jet first followed by a Singaporean helicopter that brought the fourth body and pieces of debris.

Xinhua quoted Singapore’s ministry of defence as saying that one of its naval ships found the fourth body from the crash site at 7.58 a.m.

The Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency also unloaded two large objects wrapped in silver covers from the Singaporean helicopter that were believed to be debris of the crashed AirAsia plane.

The bodies were rushed to the Imanuddin hospital in central Kalimantan province in Indonesia’s Borneo island before being transported to Surabaya from where the aircraft had taken off for Singapore.

The AirAsia flight with 155 passengers and seven crew members went missing soon after taking off.

The Airbus A320-200 was cruising at an altitude of 32,000 feet when it lost contact with the air traffic control amid a thunderstorm in the area over Java Sea.

The jetliner is believed to have crashed near Karimata Strait, 153 km from Pangkalan Bun in central Kalimantan province.

Aviation experts conjecture that the absence of any crash transmission data meant that the experienced former air force pilot might have executed a perfect emergency landing on sea before the jet was swamped by high waves amid the raging storm.

The plane’s debris was spotted Tuesday. The first victim was identified Thursday.

Four large objects believed to be of the plane were found Saturday, the biggest one being 18 meters long.

Another large object — 9.8 metres long, 1.1 metres wide and 0.4 metre high — was found by Indonesian teams Sunday.

Earlier Sunday, an instrument called pinger was deployed to find the black boxes of the plane.

The instrument was transferred to the Baruna Jaya I research ship.

The pinger locator would be deployed under the sea to send a signal to the missing plane’s black boxes, Indonesia’s Antara News Agency quoted an official as saying.

“The black box instrument is expected to respond to the call signal, so (that their) location could be identified,” he added.

Officials have said that the search operation was focused on locating the plane’s black boxes.

Taking part in the international search operation are teams from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, South Korea, Russia and the US.

Bad weather hampered search and rescue operations Sunday.



Jakarta (IANS): Ten more bodies retrieved from the site where an AirAsia plane crashed in the Java Sea reached a hospital in Indonesia Saturday for identification.

The total number of bodies sent to the Police Hospital Bhayangkara in Surabaya, the provincial capital of East Java, has risen to 18, with four of them successfully identified and handed to their families and relatives, a provincial police spokesman said.

“Ten more bodies have arrived here, including five women, four man and one child,” he said at the hospital.

So far, at least 30 bodies have been pulled out from Indonesian waters where the ill-fated Singapore-bound AirAsia QZ8501 flight carrying 162 passengers and crew on board crashed Sunday, Xinhua reported.

Meanwhile, two Indonesian navy helicopters have brought the remaining eight bodies of the total 30 bodies to a state-run hospital nearby for preliminary identification process.

They will also be brought to Surabaya later on for further identification.

S.B. Supriyadi, operation and training director of Indonesian Forces and National Search and Rescue Agency, said that a US navy vessel was on its way to the crash site, bringing logistics needed for carrying the bodies.

Supriyadi added that Russia has sent two planes, including an amphibian one, to take part in the search operation.

He said that Russian team has also brought undersea scanning equipment to locate the plane’s black box devices.

“All searching efforts are now focused to find the plane’s blackbox and wreckage,” Supriyadi said.



London (IANS): The search for AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea on its way from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore last Sunday is set to move underwater with the arrival of specialist equipment, a media report said Friday.

A French crash investigation team will use sensitive acoustic detection devices to try locate the flight QZ8501’s black box, BBC reported.

The Airbus A320-200 aircraft with 155 passengers and seven crew members on board went missing soon after taking off from Surabaya. The debris was spotted Tuesday.

No survivor has been found and the cause of the crash remains unknown.

So far, only eight bodies have been found and brought ashore, with the search operation repeatedly held up by bad weather and rough seas.

One body, identified as that of passenger Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, was buried in Surabaya at an Islamic ceremony attended by relatives and neighbours Thursday.

The plane is almost certainly at the bottom of the Java Sea. Though several pieces of debris, including an exit door, have been recovered, despite a massive five-day search, the fuselage is still missing. Officials say most of the passengers could still be inside.

The “most probable area” for search of the missing AirAsia flight has been demarcated, Royal Malaysian Navy Chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar said Friday.

He said the search area was established with a dimension of 1,575 sq nautical miles, Xinhua reported citing a tweet by the navy chief.

“This is most likely the area of the missing plane,” he added, posting an image mapping out the search area.



Jakarta (IANS): Another body from the victims of the crashed AirAsia plane in the Java Sea was recovered Thursday, taking the total number of bodies found till now to eight but bad weather continued to hamper the search operation.

A Malaysian ship involved in evacuation operations recovered a body and luggage believed to be of a victim of AirAsia flight QZ8501 which crashed with 162 on board Sunday, Indonesia’s Antara news agency reported.

“According to the information we have received from the air force, a body and a luggage were found by a Malaysian ship, and the body was later transferred to a nearby hospital by a chopper of Basarnas (National Search and Rescue Agency),” a police officer of the DVI command post at Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan province said Thursday.

The body arrived at the Regional Public Hospital of Imanuddin in Pangkalan Bun at 11.40 a.m. for preliminary identification.

The eight bodies recovered so far have been retrieved from the Java Sea, near Karimata Strait, some 95 nautical miles from Pangkalan Bun, where the plane was believed to have gone down.

The bodies were first taken to Imanuddin Hospital and later transported to Surabaya, the Indonesian city from where the ill-fated flight took off early Sunday morning for Singapore.

The plane, an Airbus A320-200, had 162 passengers and crew on board — 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, a Malaysian, a Singaporean, a British, and a French national.

The plane was believed to have crashed in the East Java Sea located between Sumatra and Kalimantan islands.

Bad weather Thursday hampered the search for wreckage and bodies.

“Clouds have started to descend again… and the weather conditions will deteriorate again,” BBC quoted search and rescue official Tatang Zaenudin as saying.

After four days of search and rescue operations, the joint team led by Basarnas and involving several institutions such as the Indonesia air force, the navy, the police, and foreign ships, have so far discovered some debris, including an emergency exit door and eight bodies.

Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the US, China, India, South Korea, Japan, and Britain have lent assistance in searching for the missing plane and any investigation regarding the accident.

Meanwhile, experts have identified one of the bodies fished out from the Java Sea site, saying Thursday they would hand it over to her family soon.

Budiono, head of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), said the victim has been successfully identified to be an Indonesian woman named Hayati Lutfiah Hamid from East Java province, Xinhua reported.

“The body will be handed over to the family soon today (Thursday),” he said at the Police Hospital Bhayangkara in Surabaya from where the ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501 took off for Singapore early Sunday morning and crashed 42 minutes later.

According to one of Hayati’s relatives, the funeral will be carried out in Surabaya city soon after the body is handed over Thursday.

Budiono added that the identification work on four other bodies that were brought to the hospital Thursday was going on.

Those bodies were sent to Surabaya by Indonesian military cargo plane for further post-mortem identification before being delivered to families.

Experts for identification have also come from South Korea and Singapore to assist in the work, according to the police chief of East Java province, Anas Yunus.


Jakarta (IANS) Seven bodies have been recovered from the Java Sea site, where the crashed AirAsia flight is believed to have gone down, at the end of the search operations Wednesday.

While four of the bodies were recovered Wednesday, three were recovered Tuesday. Four of them are males and three females.

Two of the bodies were taken to the Indonesian city of Surabaya from where the ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501 took off Sunday morning for Singapore before going missing 42 minutes later.

The two bodies, of a male and a female, were received by Governor Soekarwo of Indonesia’s East Java province, Antara news agency reported.

“Today we received two bodies. We have handed them over to the East Java Provincial Police to be identified,” Soekarwo noted.

The AirAsia aircraft, an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC, was carrying 162 passengers and crew on board — 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans and one person each from Malaysia, Singapore, Britain and France.

The plane, piloted by Captain Iriyanto and First Officer (FO) Remi Emmanuel Plesel, was scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 8.30 a.m. Sunday.

Earlier Wednesday, Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, said that the two bodies were flown from Pangkalan Bun to Surabaya.

Due to favourable weather conditions, the search team’s helicopter was able to retrieve the two bodies from the Indonesian warship KRI Banda Aceh, which was in the waters near Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan.

“The other five bodies are now being evacuated. Hopefully, the team will be able to move the bodies from the ship,” Soelistyo said.

As many as 168 coffins have been made available in Pangkalan Bun for bringing the bodies to Surabaya.

Earlier in the day, Indonesian officials said that sonar has detected wreckage from the plane at the bottom of the Java sea.

The officials were, however, unsure whether the aircraft was in one piece or has disintegrated.

As many as 17 helicopters and nine aircraft were deployed on the fourth day of the search operation.

Other vessels, including three warships and two survey ships equipped with underwater detectors, were on their way to the crash site to join the hunt for the plane’s black boxes.

Soelistyo told a press conference Tuesday that an Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules saw a “shadow” under water, believed to be that of the AirAsia plane.

Meanwhile, Jakarta-based Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has predicted moderate to high intensity rainfall in the search area Thursday.

Besides the rainfall, waves in the search area can reach one to three meters in height, BMKG spokesman Fachri Radjab said, Antara reported.


Jakarta (IANS): AirAsia Tuesday confirmed that the debris spotted in the Java Sea, is from the missing flight QZ8501, even as three bodies confirmed to be those of passengers in the ill-fated plane were retrieved.

“AirAsia Indonesia regrets to inform that The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia (Basarna) confirmed that the debris found earlier today is indeed from QZ8501, the flight that had lost contact with air traffic control Dec 28,” the airline said in an online statement.

The debris of the aircraft were found in the Karimata Strait, around 110 nautical miles south west from Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan province in Borneo island.

“We are sorry to be here today under these tragic circumstances. We would like to extend our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of those on board QZ8501,” Sunu Widyatmoko, chief executive officer of AirAsia Indonesia, said, adding that “our sympathies also go out to the families of our dear colleagues”.

“I am absolutely devastated. This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search and rescue operations but our first priority now is the well-being of the family members of those on board QZ8501,” Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of AirAsia, said.

Flight QZ 8501 lost contact with the air control tower 42 minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s Surabaya city for Singapore early Sunday morning.

The aircraft, an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC, was carrying 162 passengers and crew on board — 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans and one person each from Malaysia, Singapore, Britain and France.

Captain Iriyanto and First Officer Remi Emmanuel Plesel were the two pilots aboard the jet along with four cabin crew members – Wanti Setiawati, Khairunnisa Haidar Fauzi, Oscar Desano and Wismoyo Ari Prambudi – and technician Saiful Rakhmad.

AirAsia Indonesia will be inviting family members to Surabaya, where a dedicated team of care providers will be assigned to each family to ensure that all of their needs are met.

Counsellors, religious and spiritual personnel have also been invited to the family centre to provide any necessary services.

Earlier in the day, three out of the six bodies found in the Java Sea, confirmed as passengers of flight QZ8501, were recovered by a rescue team.

Bambang Sulistyo, head of Basarna, confirmed that the bodies and debris, suspected to be from the missing AirAsia plane that lost contact with the air control tower 42 minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s Surabaya city for Singapore Sunday morning, were spotted in the waters of Karimata Strait, west of Kalimantan island, Indonesia’s Antara news agency reported.

Of the six spotted bodies of the victims, three were reportedly retrieved by an Indonesian warship, KRI Bung Tomo.

The bodies were taken to Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan province in Borneo island.

“A CN-235 aircraft of the Indonesian Air Force spotted debris floating in the waters,” Soelistyo said.

A C-130 aircraft of the Indonesian Air Force spotted another metal object floating in the water.

A Hercules aircraft also spotted a shadow, presumably resembling the shape of an aircraft submerged in water.

Soelistyo said that the KRI Bung Tomo spotted an object, probably an emergency exit door of an aircraft.

The ship, with the assistance of a helicopter, then conducted a search operation and recovered the emergency exit door.

Late Tuesday, Basarna deployed 21 divers to join in the search operation for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 in the Java Sea.

“Some 21 divers comprising 11 Indonesian navy personnel and 10 rescue team members will search the AirAsia debris site,” Antara quoted Soelistyo as saying.

He said that the divers would search 25 to 30 metres inside the sea in an area around the Karimata Strait, west of Kalimantan island where the AirAsia plane had gone off the radar

So far, the agency has covered 95 percent of the debris site in the Karimata Strait near Pangkalanbun, central Kalimantan province in Borneo island.

“Findings indicate that 95 percent of the location has been searched and the debris and objects recovered so far reportedly belonged to the AirAsia aircraft,” Soelistyo said.


Sydney (IANS): An Australian aviation expert said Tuesday that human error undoubtedly led to the disappearance of AirAsia flight QZ8501 after the pilots flew directly into a well-known danger zone above the Java Sea.

Expert Neil Hansford said that either the Indonesian captain or the French first officer plotted a dangerous flight plan.

He said veteran pilots avoided the area where the plane is believed to have gone down and would not fly through it.

“They call it ‘the thunderstorm factory,'” Hansford told the Nine Network, Xinhua reported.

“You plan to go around it. You don’t plan to go through it.”

He said whoever plotted the flight plan made a fatal error.

“Whoever did the flight plan — now we don’t know whether it was the French first officer or the captain himself,” Hansford said.

“Whether they read the meteorology right they were given in Surubaya who dropped the ball? And how well did they communicate? One whose basic language is Bahasa, and the other guy’s basic language is in French.

“How good is their common English between the two of them?”

He concluded by emphatically saying it was pilot error.

“I’ve said all along it was never going to be engineering,” Hansford said.


THE pilot of the AirAsia flight, which went missing en route from Indonesia to Singapore, was known for his extraordinary performance as a jet fighter pilot before he joined the airline, a media report said Tuesday.

Iriyanto, 53, started out his career as an F-5 and F-16 fighter pilot after having graduated in 1983, the Jakarta Post reported.

He joined the 14th squadron at Iswahjudi Air Force Base (AFB) in Madiun, East Java, and stayed there for around 10 years.

“He was one of the best graduates,” the report quoted an official who trained Iriyanto as saying.

“Iriyanto was known as one of the ‘Flight Leaders’ on F-5 Tigers, the leading fighter jet in the 1980s,” he said.

Iriyanto also served with Indonesia’s Merpati Airline and Sriwijaya Airline prior to joining AirAsia, the report added.

According to AirAsia statements, Iriyanto had logged a total of 20,537 flying hours, of which 6,053 flying hours were logged during his tenure with the airlines, while the co-pilot, French national Remi Emmanuel Plesel, had 2,247 hours.

Iriyanto has two children.



Jakarta (IANS): No significant sign has been found after the second day’s search for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 Monday, a senior official of Indonesia’s seacrh and rescue agency said while another official dismally said the plane might well be at the bottom of the sea.

All efforts to locate the missing plane would continue in the coming days, Sutono, a senior official of the Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), said on the sidelines of a teleconference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Asked on findings of alleged debris of QZ8501 near the Nangka island in the Java Sea by an Australian AP-3C Orion plane and spotting of an oil slick and debris off the eastern Belitung island, Sutono said there has been no credible evidence to confirm those reports.

“We will survey them again tomorrow. The search would still be conducted from sunrise to dusk. We have seven days to search for the plane, which could be extended depending on developments of search operations,” Sutono told Xinhua.

The search and rescue command centre, set up in the Pangkalpinang airport premises, is supervising the joint international search for the missing plane, focusing on waters between Bangka Belitung and West Kalimantan provinces and the Karimata Strait.

Singapore, Malaysia and Australia have sent planes and vessels to join in the search operation, and a South Korean AP-3C Orion plane is scheduled to arrive Tuesday.

The Airbus A320-200 disappeared Sunday en route from Surabaya in Indonesia’s East Java to Singapore after the pilot requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather.

The flight lost contact with the ground at 6.17 a.m. after air traffic control consented to the pilot’s request to change the flight route but it did not approve the request to raise the height of flight to 34,000 feet (10,303 metres).

The aircraft, which sent no distress signal, must have run out of fuel if it kept flying, said Djoko Murjatmodjo, director general of air transport in the Indonesian transport ministry.

The ill-fated plane was carrying 162 people, including 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one person each from Malaysia, Singapore, Britain and France.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla told a press conference at Surabaya airport that he received reports that an Australian Orion surveillance plane had spotted suspicious looking objects near the Nangka Island, 1,120 km from the point where the jetliner lost contact.

However, the vice president said he could not confirm whether the objects were parts of the missing QZ8501 flight.

They “have not been clarified”, he said, adding that rescuers and searchers were verifying the reports.

Air force spokesman Hadi Tjahnanto said an Indonesian helicopter had spotted an oil slick some 100 nautical miles (185 km) off the east coast of Belitung island.

“We haven’t been able to confirm, however, whether it was the fuel of the AirAsia aircraft,” he said.

Earlier, an Indonesian official told the media that the missing jet was believed to have sunk to the bottom of the sea.

“Because the coordinate that was given to us and the evolution from the calculation point of the flight track is at sea, our early conjecture is that the plane is at the bottom of the sea,” said Bambang Sulistyo, head of Basarnas.

Should the projection be true, Indonesia would need to cooperate with other countries to bring the wreckage to the surface, he added.

Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan Monday said the ministry would review the operations of AirAsia Indonesia following Sunday’s incident.

“We will review the entire operations of AirAsia Indonesia to make sure its performance can be better in future,” Jonan said at a press conference.

“We will review a lot of things, including its business operations so that we can later see safety improvements,” the Jakarta Post quoted the minister as saying.

The incident is possibly the third Malaysia-linked air disaster this year. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, a Boeing 777 with 239 people on board, disappeared March 8 after diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course. No trace of the jetliner has been found yet despite massive international search efforts.

Months later, flight MH17, also a Boeing 777, went down July 17 in war-torn eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 aboard.

According to a report, AirAsia’s share price dropped to a low of 2.56 Malaysian ringgits (about $0.73) Monday following the disappearance of flight QZ8501.

The shares fell 7.8 percent, the biggest drop since September 2011, Xinhua reported.

AirAsia, a low-cost carrier established in 2001 by Tony Fernandes, a Malaysian of Indian descent, has dominated cheap travel in the region for years with about 100 destinations and affiliate companies in several Asian countries.



280x425Anthony Fernandes listed budget long-haul carrier AirAsia X and insurer Tune Insurance Holdings last year. Builds businesses around his passions, co-owning a British soccer team and a Formula 1 racing team in the U.K. Started his career in the music industry working for Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. In 2001 took over floundering AirAsia and with No. 27 Kamarudin Meranun turned it into the region’s largest low-cost airline. Hosted the Asian version of the TV series The Apprentice last year.