AirAsia jetliner with 162 people disappears

[Peter Paul Media] — An AirAsia Indonesia jetliner flying between Indonesia and Singapore disappeared Sunday with 162 people on board, the airline confirmed adding that no distress calls had been received prior to its disappearance.

There were no indications to any problems but the airline confirmed that the captain in command of flight QZ8501 requested an altitude deviation just minutes before air traffic control lost contact.

The search was briefly suspended overnight due to bad weather and darkness but has since resumed, officials said. The plane is believed to have crashed into the ocean and may by on the ocean floor, an Indonesian official said.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the missing jet at 7:24 AM local time Sunday about halfway to its destination and about 40 minutes after taking off from Surabaya, Indonesia.

The majority of passengers were Indonesian–149 in total. There were nationals from South Korea [3], Britain [1], Singapore [1], France [1] and one Malaysian on board the flight, the airline said. The flight had a crew of seven people including the captain, first officer [French], flight engineer and four flight attendants.

The captain in command of QZ8501 had 6,100 total flying hours of experience aith AirAsia Indonesia A320’s and the first officer had 2,275 flying hours. The Airbus A320-200, registered PK-AXC, was in good working order prior to Sunday’s flight and received its last scheduled maintenance on November 16, 2014, the airline said.

“The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to en-route weather before communication with the aircraft was lost,” said a statement from AirAsia.

The plane was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control, the statement added. There were reports of heavy rain and thunderstorms, compounded by reports of wind shear near the last reported position of the aircraft over the Java Sea.

In a statement released on Twitter on Sunday, Airbus, the aircraft’s manufacturer, said they were monitoring the situation closely. AirAsia has setup an emergency call centre (+622129270811) where friends and relatives of flight QZ8501 can call to get the latest information.

This is the second such passenger plane to go missing this year. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8 and no traces of the plane or its passengers have ever found even after months of exhaustive searching.

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