In the last five years, four commercial aircraft disasters have occurred involving more than 160 people. Malaysia has been the headquarters for airlines in three of those incidents.
Who was aboard this flight? Some reports are conflicting, but the number appears to be 162. 155 were passengers and seven crew members. One report indicates 138 adults, 16 children, and one infant. Countries of origin appear to be 157 from Indonesia, 3 from South Korea, 1 from Malaysia, 1 from Singapore, and 1 either from France or UK. The reports conflict on that last individual. This plane belonged to the Indonesia affiliate of Air Asia, a popular budget airline in the region.
What happened? It appears that violent thunderstorms were detected mid flight and the pilots requested an alternate route. They were ascending to a new altitude when contact was lost with Airbus A320-200 with registration number PK-AXC. This plane is six years old.
When was contact lost? Again, reports conflict on this detail. The most accurate estimate at the moment is 7:24 p.m. Saturday December 27, Eastern Standard Time (7:24 a.m. Sunday December 28 local Surabaya time). Indonesian authorities give the time of last contact as 6:17 a.m. local time Sunday.
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Where? The flight, QZ8501, was from Surabaya to Singapore. Reports indicate contact was lost over the Java Sea in Indonesia between the Kalimantan and Java Islands. Initial search efforts are being conducted between Belitung Island and Kalimantan, West of Borneo.
Why? At present, search and rescue efforts would indicate authorities believe the bad weather may have caused the plane to crash. As yet, this has not been stated aloud, but a Boeing 737 has been sent to the area for surveillance purposes.
How long could it fly? Three hours, according to reports. There was sufficient fuel to fly an additional three hours after contact was lost.
Thoughts and prayers are with the families.