Officials said no signals had been detected from the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitters, or ELTs, and as teams resumed the search for the plane after pausing overnight, the search area was widened from around Bangka island south of Singapore to include waters farther north, in addition to a part of the island of Borneo.
Indonesia Air Asia Flight 8501 with 162 people on board vanished in a thicket of storm clouds en route to Singapore from the Indonesian city of Surabaya on Sunday morning. It lost contact with air-traffic control less than an hour after takeoff after requesting to climb to a higher altitude to avoid bad weather, officials said.
“Based on the location coordinates given to us, our preliminary assessment is that the plane is at the bottom of the sea,” Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s search-and-rescue efforts, told reporters in Jakarta. “But we will develop this further.”
Tatang Kurniadi, chief of Indonesia’s national transportation safety committee, said the lack of a detected signal could be because the ELTs are broken, mountains are blocking signals or the plane isn’t on land.
Ships and aircraft were deployed from across Southeast Asia to hunt for the plane on Sunday after it disappeared. But as night fell, no trace had been found and the search was called off until dawn Monday.
A 40-year-old Indonesian who was among the passengers had worked as a maid in Singapore for four years, said an official of a Singapore-based maid agency who helped her get a job. Yuni Astutik, who according to the passenger manifest was allotted seat 12F, had gone to Indonesia to attend a wedding, the official said, without disclosing the agency name or Ms. Asustik’s employer.
Airbus Group NV said Monday that it is sending a team of experts to Indonesia to assist as technical advisers in the search.
The disappearance of Flight 8501 is the AirAsia group’s first significant incident. In recent years, Indonesia’s aviation authorities have come under criticism and enhanced scrutiny by both U.S. and European safety officials, and international air-safety experts have expressed concerns that soaring growth in air travel in the broader region could erode safety margins.
Tatang Kurniadi, the chief of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, said the country’s safety record had improved as its aircraft-accident rate dropped to 0.82 per million flights this year from 2.94 per million in 2007. That compares to a global, five-year average of 0.48 for serious accidents on Western-built jets, according to the International Air Transport Association’s 2013 report.
Those on board Sunday’s AirAsia flight included 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, one U.K. citizen, one Malaysian, one Singaporean and one French citizen, airline officials said. Seventeen of the passengers were children. The plane was carrying two pilots and five other crew members.
An AirAsia plane with 162 people on board lost contact with air-traffic control Sunday during a flight from Indonesia to Singapore. Photo: AP
State-owned AirNav Indonesia, which provides air-navigation services, said the AirAsia plane took off at 5:32 a.m. local time. It said the airliner was cruising at 32,000 feet and at 6:12 a.m., the plane contacted traffic control at Jakarta’s airport to say it was moving left from the flight path and rising to 38,000 feet to avoid a cloud. At 6:16 a.m. the plane was still appearing on the radar, it said. At 6:18 a.m., it disappeared from radar.
Acting Air Transportation Director General Djoko Murjatmodjo said Jakarta air controllers had given the plane a green light to veer away from its flight path but not to ascend to 38,000 feet because of traffic conditions and pending confirmation with other controllers.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he had instructed Indonesia’s armed forces to help and was also welcoming assistance from neighboring countries.
JAKARTA, Indonesia—Indonesian officials on Monday expanded the search area for a missing AirAsia
Diposkan Oleh: Eva Nuraini