An Indonesian official with the country’s search and rescue agency told reporters Monday that missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501 could be on the bottom of the sea. His words came in answer to a question as to the missing plane’s possible location. The Airbus 320 carrying 162 crewmen and passengers disappeared from radar early Sunday morning 42 minutes into a two-hour flight to Singapore.
“Based on our coordinates, we expect it is in the sea, so for now (we think) it is on the sea floor,” Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, told reporters, Global Post reported Dec. 29. The plane disappeared five minutes after requesting a course change. It was over the Java Sea at the time.
Search efforts have been concentrated on an area that spans roughly 70 nautical miles, Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said. The search area is located between Sumatra and Borneo. The water there ranges from 50 to 100 meters, something that could aid in finding the missing plane.
Still, there has been no trace of the missing plane. Although oil slicks and what appears to be wreckage have been spotted, nothing thus far has proven to be attributable to the lost plane.
The plane itself vanished after asking permission to alter course and fly above a range of storm clouds. That permission was initially denied, because of a conflict with another jet at the cruising altitude suggested, according to the Jakarta Post. (Earlier reports had erroneously reported that the altitude adjustment was permitted upon request.) An alternative cruising altitude was worked out between Indonesian and Singaporean air traffic controllers and communicated to Flight 8501. It was at this time that they received no response from the plane’s pilot.
So where is AirAsia Flight QZ8501? Is is resting on the sea floor?
Several nations are working on finding the missing jet, including Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia. The Indonesian government has specifically asked for the help of the United States as well, according to the Agence France-Presse. China and Russia have also reportedly offered assistance in finding the missing plane.
The vanishing of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 marks the third incident involving a Malaysia-linked passenger jet this year, given that AirAsia is 49 percent Malaysia-owned. In March, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared over the South China Sea, igniting a modern mystery that continues today. In July, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a pro-Russian separatist missile on the border of Russia and Ukraine.