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28 December 2014

Missing AirAsia flight QZ8501: what we know so far

Air traffic control has lost contact with a passenger plane flying from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board.

By New Statesman

Here is what we know so far about the third potential air incident connected to Malaysia this year:

 – An AirAsia Indonesia airliner, flight QZ8501, flying from Indonesia to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control. It went missing at 7.24 local time.

 – It has 162 people on board. Most on board are Indonesian, and there are also three South Koreans, one French, one Malaysian and one Singaporean. The Foreign Office confirmed this morning that one Briton is also on board, whose next of kin has been informed. The BBC understands this British national to be a man called Chi-Man Choi.

 – It disappeared halfway through the flight, which should take more than two hours. It was due to land in Singapore at 8.30 local time.

 – No distress call was sent but the plane had requested to deviate from the flight path due to stormy weather. It asked for permission to climb to 38,000ft to avoid some thick clouds, shortly before losing contact.

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 – A search and rescue operation, led by Singapore and Indonesia, is under way in the Java Sea area. Malaysia is assisting, and Australia and India have also offered to help.

Here is the airline’s statement:

AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24 (Surabaya LT) this morning. The flight took off from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya at 0535hours.

The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. There were two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer on board.

The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours

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 as below:

1 Singapore

1 Malaysia

1 France

3 South Korean

156 Indonesia

At this time, search and rescue operations are being conducted under the guidance of The Indonesia of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). AirAsia Indonesia is cooperating fully and assisting the investigation in every possible way.

The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC).

The aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November 2014.

AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.

AirAsia will release further information as soon as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website, www.airasia.com.

Update 29/12/14: News agencies are quoting the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue operation Bambang Soelistyo as saying the missing airliner is “probably at the bottom of the sea”, based on the information they have. Oil and debris are regularly being spotted floating in the Java Sea, but none have been conclusively linked to AirAsia flight QZ8501. This is the third disaster involving a Malaysian carrier this year. MH370, which disappeared en route between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing in March, has still not been found.