Missing Aircraft: Does This Ring Any Bells

Another airliner carrying a large number of civilian passengers has gone missing in the area between Indonesia and Malaysia. Here is what is known so far from the news feeds. As you read it, make a not of how far you get before the bells start ringing.

As yet we know nothing for sure and there may indeed be nothing strange about this disappearance. But the number of similiarities with the ill fated Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH370 are remarkable to say the least.

For those who missed the coverage, here is what is known so far.

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, an Airbus 320-200 carrying 155 passengers and seven crew, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 a.m. (2317 GMT on Saturday). No distress signal had been sent, said Joko Muryo Atmodjo, an Indonesian transport ministry official.

On board were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans and one each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain, plus a French pilot, the airline said in a statement, correcting earlier information. Tatang Kurniadi, head of Indonesia’s National Committee of Safety Transportation, expressed hope of locating the aircraft quickly and said it was too early to detect any of the so-called electronic pings from its black box recorder.

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“We are using our capacity to search on sea and land. Hopefully we can find the location of the plane as soon as possible,” he told a news conference.”What I need to emphasize is until now, we have not found out how the plane fell or what kind of emergency it was.”

Indonesia AirAsia is 49 percent owned by Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia (AIRA.KL), which has had a clean safety record since it began operating 13 years ago. The AirAsia group also has affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India. The aircraft had accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights, according to Airbus (AIR.PA).

The pilots of QZ8501 “was requesting deviation due to en-route weather before communication with the aircraft was lost,” the airline said in a statement. Singapore, Malaysia, Britain, South Korea and Australia offered to help in the search and any investigation. Malaysia said it was sending vessels and a C130 aircraft while Singapore had also sent a C130. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said a P3 Orion aircraft was on standby if needed.

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UPDATE – 29 December

Disappeared AirAsia Plane Likely “At Bottom Of Sea”; No Signal Detected

One would have thought that more than half a year after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia flight MH-370 airlines would have taken precautions to keep track of airplanes at any given moment. One would be wrong, and as the latest mystery surrounding AirAsia’s missing jet deepens, it has become clear that like with its Malaysian predecessor, nobody has any clue where the plane may be, so the speculation begins. Cue Reuters, which reports that the plane “could be at the bottom of the sea after it was presumed to have crashed off the Indonesian coast, an official said on Monday, as countries around Asia sent ships and planes to help in the search effort.”

The disappearance was quite unexpected, even to the pilots, as Flight QZ8501 did not even get a chance to issue a distress signal and disappeared over the Java Sea five minutes after requesting the change of course, which was refused because of heavy air traffic, officials said. What is just as surprising is that the airplane in question, an Airbus A320 has traditionally had a virtually spotless flight history: The plane that disappeared was delivered to AirAsia from the production line in October 2008. Powered by CFM 56-5B engines built by a joint venture of General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA (SAF), the aircraft had accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights, Airbus said on its website.

Read more:

At the bottom of the sea eh? Would that be the ‘C’ in ‘Diego Garcia’ we wonder?

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