Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 (QZ8501/AWQ8501) was an Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320-216 flight that disappeared en route to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia on 28 December 2014 with 155 passengers and 7 crew on board. Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency stated that “…our early conjecture is that the plane is in the bottom of the sea”. Wreckage of the plane was subsequently found in the Karimata Strait.
Indonesia AirAsia is an affiliate of the Malaysian airline AirAsia.
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The flight took off from Juanda International Airport, Surabaya, at 05:35 Western Indonesian Time (WIB, UTC+7) and was scheduled to land at Singapore Changi Airportat 08:30
The plane had been under Indonesian air traffic control when it requested deviation from its original flight path because of poor weather conditions.The pilot had requested to climb to 38,000 feet (11,600 m), to avoid thick clouds, which was refused by air traffic controllers because of heavy air traffic, although the final altitude indicated by the transponder and collected by Flightradar24 was 32,000 ft (9,750 m).The plane lost contact with air traffic control at 06:17 WIB while travelling nearBelitung island, over the Java Sea between Kalimantan (Borneo) and Java, still under Indonesian air traffic control, at normal cruising altitude and speed. A meteorological analysis revealed that the aircraft was traversing a storm cluster during the minutes prior to its disappearance.
The Indonesian Transport Ministry reported that no distress signal was sent from the missing aircraft.
Timeline of disappearance
|00:00||27 December||28 December||Take-off from Juanda International Airport.[b] Scheduled departure was 05:20.|
|00:37||23:12||06:12||07:12||Pilots ask for ATC clearance to divert left from the flight plan and climb to 38,000 ft (12,000 m) to avoid bad weather. Jakarta air traffic controllers allowed the diversion, but denied the request to climb because of traffic.|
|00:42||23:17||06:17||07:17||Radar contact lost, according to AirNav Indonesia. AirAsia has claimed contact was lost at 06:24.|
|00:43||23:18||06:18||07:18||ADS-B transponder signal lost, with last position reported as , according to Indonesia’s Ministry of Transport.|
|—||28 December||07:30||08:30||Missed scheduled arrival at Singapore Changi Airport|
The aircraft was an Airbus A320-216, with serial number 3648, registered as PK-AXC. It first flew on 25 September 2008, and was newly delivered to AirAsia on 15 October 2008. The aircraft had accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours over 13,600 flights. It had undergone its most recent scheduled maintenance on 16 November 2014. The aircraft was powered by two CFM International CFM56-5B6 engines and was configured to carry 180 passengers.
Passengers and crew
AirAsia released the nationalities of the 162 passengers and crew which included 144 adults, 17 children, and one infant. The cabin crew consisted of four flight attendants. Additionally, AirAsia had an engineer as part of the aircrew on board.
The pilots aboard the flight were:
- Captain Iriyanto, an Indonesian national, who had a total of 20,537 flying hours, of which 6,100 were with AirAsia Indonesia on the Airbus A320.
- First Officer Rémi Emmanuel Plesel, a French national, who had a total of 2,275 flying hours with AirAsia Indonesia.
Immediately following the incident, unconfirmed reports suggested that the flight had crashed off the island of Belitung in Indonesia.
Shortly after the plane was confirmed to be missing, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency deployed seven ships and two helicopters to search the shores of Belitung and Kalimantan. The Indonesian Navy and the provincial Indonesian National Police Air and Water Unit each sent out search and rescue teams. In addition, an Indonesian Air Force Boeing 737 reconnaissance aircraft was dispatched to the last known location of the airliner.
The Indonesian Navy dispatched four ships by the end of the first search day and the Air Force deployed aircraft including a CASA/IPTN CN-235. The Indonesian Army deployed ground troops to search the shores and mountains of adjacent islands. Local fishermen also participated in the search.
Search and rescue operations have been ongoing under the guidance of the Civil Aviation Authority of Indonesia. The search was suspended at 7:45 pm local time on 28 December due to darkness and bad weather, to be resumed in daylight. An operations center to coordinate search efforts was set up in Pangkal Pinang. The search area is a 270-nautical-mile radius near Belitung Island.
Singapore’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC), managed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and supported by various agencies, including the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), has also initially deployed a C-130 Hercules aircraft to aid in the search and rescue operation. An officer from Singapore will be deployed to Jakarta to coordinate with the Indonesian authorities on the search operations, and two more C-130 Hercules aircraft will be deployed for the second day of the search and rescue operation. A frigate, a corvette, a tank landing ship, and a submarine support and rescue vessel subsequently took part in the search and rescue after Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) accepted the offer of help from the Republic of Singapore Navy. BASARNAS has also accepted Singapore’s Ministry of Transport offer of help of specialist teams from the Air Accident and Investigation Bureau and underwater locator equipment.
The Malaysian government has also set up a rescue coordination center at Subang and has deployed three military vessels and three aircraft, including a C-130 Hercules, to assist in search and rescue operations. Australia has deployed a P-3 Orion to assist in the search and rescue operation. India put three ships and P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft on standby for assistance in the search operation, including one ship in the Bay of Bengal and another in the Andaman Sea. The United States Navy agreed to assist with the search effort after being asked by the Indonesian Government. The Navy’s 7th Fleet will contribute to the rescue effort by looking for the missing aircraft in a new search area where it is believed to have crashed. The USS Sampson was expected to arrive late on 30 December to contribute to search efforts.
On 29 December 2014, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said that authorities believe the missing AirAsia jet is likely at the bottom of the sea, based on radar data from the plane’s last contact.
On 30 December 2014, items resembling a plane door and an emergency slide were spotted 10km from where the plane last contacted air traffic control; later, other debris was spotted in the surrounding area. Indonesian authorities later confirmed that the item found in the Karimata Strait is a portion of an airframe. Bodies, suspected to be of passengers, have been found in the waters of Kumai Gulf, nearPangkalan Bun. The Indonesian Navy was sent to the area immediately.
At 10.05 UTC Reuters, quoting Indonesian official Manahan Simorangkir, reported that 40 bodies had been recovered. At around 11:30 BBC News and The Guardian quoted Indonesian officals reporting that the debris found in the Java Sea was from the Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320.
Indonesia AirAsia, following the disappearance, changed its website and social media branding to greyscale images, in mourning for the presumed deaths of the passengers. This has also been the case for all AirAsia subsidiaries, as well as Changi Airport’s Facebook page. An emergency call center has also been established by the airline, for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft.
An emergency information center was set up at Juanda International Airport, providing hourly updates and lodging for relatives. Smaller posts were also opened atSoekarno–Hatta International Airport and Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport.
Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong expressed his condolences over the missing AirAsia flight via Twitter. Lee also called President Joko Widodo and offered help in the search as stated in another tweet.
Leaders of other nearby countries have also expressed condolence and offered assistance.