Key developments in disappearance of AirAsia jet

AirAsia says the Airbus A320-200 was on the submitted flight plan route

Kuala Lumpur: AAn AirAsia jet with 162 people on board disappeared Sunday morning while flying from western Indonesia to Singapore on a scheduled two-hour flight. Here's a look at the key developments:

The searchers

Twelve Indonesian navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and a number of warships were taking part in the search Monday, along with ships and planes from Singapore and Malaysia, said First Adm. Sigit Setiayana, the Naval Aviation Center commander at the Surabaya air force base. The Australian Air Force sent a search plane, and fishing boats also were looking for the aircraft.

Search area

Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia's acting director general of transportation, said the Airbus A320-200 is believed to have gone missing somewhere over the Java Sea between Tanjung Pandan on Belitung island and Pontianak, on Indonesia's part of Borneo island. Monday's search area extended 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the last point of contact.

Cockpit request denied

In the cockpit's last communication with air traffic control, one of the pilots asked to turn left and climb to 11,582 meters (38,000 feet) to avoid clouds. Air traffic control was not able to immediately grant the request because another plane was in airspace at 34,000 feet, said Bambang Tjahjono, director of the state-owned company in charge of air-traffic control. He said that by the time clearance could be given, Flight 8501 had disappeared.

Bad weather

Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said dense storm clouds were detected up to 13,400 meters (44,000 feet) in the same area at the time the plane was reported to have lost contact.

Families at airport

Dozens of relatives of people aboard the plane gathered in a room at Surabaya airport to await word about their loved ones. Among the passengers were three South Koreans and one each from Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. The rest were Indonesians.

CEO'S nightmare

Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, AirAsia's chief and the face of the company, tweeted, "This is my worst nightmare." He flew to Surabaya and said at a news conference that the focus should be on the search and the families. "We have no idea at the moment what went wrong. Let's not speculate at the moment," he said.

( Source : AP )
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