A member of the search team looks out over the waters of the Java Sea, on 30 December 2014
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Indonesian officials have confirmed that flight AirAsia QZ8501, which disappeared on 28 December, crashed into the Java Sea off Borneo.

The airbus A320-200, carrying 162 people from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, was just over 40 minutes into its flight when contact was lost during bad weather.

Debris and bodies were spotted on the third day of the search, about 16km (10 miles) from the plane’s last known co-ordinates.

Official List of on Board Passenger: http://themetrolive.com/world/list-of-passengers-aboard-airasia-qz8501-flight/

Take-off

Flight QZ8501 took off from Surabaya at 05:35 local time on Sunday (22:35 GMT Saturday) with 162 people on board.

The seven crew were made up of two pilots, four flight attendants and an engineer. There were 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant.

Nearly all the passengers and crew were Indonesians, including six of the crew – one of the pilots was French. There was also one passenger travelling on a UK passport.

The low-cost carrier was on a two-hour flight to Singapore.

The pilot contacted air traffic control at 06:12 local time (23:12 GMT) to request permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather.

Officials said heavy air traffic in the area meant he was not given permission to do so straight away.

Flight disappears

When air traffic control tried to contact the plane again there was no answer.

Weather map of Indonesia

The plane disappeared from radar screens shortly afterwards. It did not issue a distress signal.

AirAsia said the pilot had asked to climb to 38,000ft (11,000m) from 32,000ft, to avoid big storm clouds, which are a common occurrence in the area.

Indonesia’s weather agency says the storm clouds at the time rose to a height of 44,000 ft (13,000m), higher than commercial airliners in the region regularly fly.

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Chart showing altitudes of planes flying over the Java Sea at the time of the AirAsia 8501 disappearance

The plane was in an area near the equator known for thunderstorms, where trade winds from the northern and southern hemispheres intersect. Air France Flight 447, which crashed in the mid-Atlantic in June 2009 killing 228 people, was flying through similar conditions.

The AirAsia jet was reported to be the lowest-flying plane in the region at the time of its disappearance.

Search for wreckage

The search, led by the Indonesian military and the Indonesian search and rescue agency, focused on an area of the Java Sea between Belitung island and Kalimantan, the plane’s last known position.

About 30 vessels, including three warships, and more than 20 aircraft, including helicopters, several P3 Orions and Hercules C-130s, took part, over an area of up to 10,000 square nautical miles (34,300 sq km).

Map showing route of missing plane and site of debris

A number of countries, including Australia, the United States, Singapore, South Korea and China, were involved.

Planes and ships were conducting visual and radar surveillance and there were also ships using sonar equipment.

Local fishermen have also helped with the search. There are reports in local media that the wreckage was first spotted by 38-year-old fisherman Mohammed Taha.

Mr Taha told Tempo online, as quoted by the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, that he saw red and white debris in the sea on Sunday night, but as he had been at sea all day and had not heard about the crash, he thought nothing of it. On returning to his village on Monday night he heard the news and told police, the paper quoted him as saying.

Underwater recovery

Some reports say a shadow has been spotted under the water, which appeared to be in the shape of a plane.

The waters of the Java Sea are relatively shallow. According to Indonesian officials, the wreckage is believed to be in water between 20m (65ft) and 25m deep.

Twenty-one naval divers have been brought in to help with the search.

Indonesia has also deployed a pinger locator to look for the plane’s underwater locator beacon, which should help locate the plane’s “black box” flight recorder.

Towed pinger locator

Civilian aircraft carry two “black boxes” – the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder, each weighing about 15lb (7kg) and protected by steel casing designed to resist water pressure in depths up to 20,000ft (6,000m).

If the recorders are underwater, a high-frequency ping is emitted every second for at least 30 days.

Source:BBC

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