Air Asia flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic controllers 42 minutes into its roughly two-hour long scheduled flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore. Following is a wrap of information available till now.
What was the last known condition?
The plane asked permission from Jakarta air traffic control to track away from its flight plan and climb above bad weather in an area noted for severe thunderstorms, the airline said. According to flight tracking service Flightradar24, the plane was at 32,000 feet and climbing before the data feed stopped.
The aircraft was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan on Borneo Island, when it went missing.
Were any distress signals sent?
How bad was the weather?
CNN reported, on the basis of satellite reports, that the region was seeing significant thunderstorms. The news channel said such thunderstorms can tower up to over 50,000 feet high – much higher than what the Airbus A320 aircraft could climb to be able to avoid it.
Who were on board?
The plane had 138 adult passengers, 16 children and an infant, in addition to five cabin crew and the pilot and co-pilot, who is believed to be French. The airline said 156 of those on board Flight QZ8501 were Indonesians, with three South Koreans and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia and France.
The route sees significant number of leisure travel, CNN reported, suggesting many – especially the Indonesian passengers -- could be headed to Singapore for New Year holidays.
Family members of passengers on board AirAsia flight QZ8501 wait for information inside a crisis centre at Juanda Airport in Surabaya. (Reuters)
How is it likely to be searched?
Apart from ground scouts, officials will be looking at data from primary radars nearby that could give more details about the aircraft than what was sent from the plane itself. It was not immediately clear whether it had any satellite tracking devices on board.
Status of ground teams?
Singapore, Malaysia and Australia have offered to help in the search. Malaysia said it is sending vessels and a C130 aircraft while Singapore also sent a C130, officials said. Indonesia has rushed choppers, an aircraft and deployed boats to comb the region.
How experienced were the pilots?
The pilots – an Indonesian and a Frenchman – were significantly experienced. The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours.
AirAsia has established a helpline centre for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801