Tag Archives: Disappearance

Divers retrieve one AirAsia “black box”, explosion theory questioned

Divers retrieve one AirAsia “black box”, explosion theory questioned

By Kanupriya Kapoor and Charlotte Greenfield

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia/JAKARTA, Jan 12 (Reuters) – I ndonesian navy divers retrieved the black box flight data recorder from the wreck of an AirAsia passenger jet on Monday, a major step towards unravelling the cause of the crash that killed all 162 people on board.

But there was confusion about what happened in the final moments of Flight QZ8501, which crashed off the Indonesian coast on Dec. 28, with one official saying the plane probably exploded before hitting the water and another disputing that theory.

The Airbus A320-200 airliner lost contact with air traffic control in bad weather less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Indonesia’s second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore.

“At 7:11, we succeeded in lifting the part of the black box known as the flight data recorder,” Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters at a news conference.

The second so-called black box, containing the cockpit voice recorder, is located about 20 metres away from where the flight data recorder was found, but divers have not yet been able to get to it.

“(The cockpit voice recorder) seems to be under a wing, which is quite heavy,” said Supriyadi, operations coordinator for the search and rescue agency. “So we will use air bags to lift it. This will be done tomorrow.”

The black boxes contain a wealth of data that will be crucial for investigators piecing together the sequence of events that led to the airliner plunging into the sea.

Supriyadi said the wreckage indicated that the plane likely “experienced an explosion” before hitting the water due to a significant change in air pressure.

He said the left side of the plane seemed to have disintegrated, pointing to a change in pressure that could have caused an explosion.

“NO DATA” TO SUPPORT THEORY

Supporting this possibility, he added, was the fact that fishermen in the area had reported hearing an explosion and saw smoke above the water.

But another official disputed the likelihood of a blast.

“There is no data to support that kind of theory,” said Santoso Sayogo, an investigator at the National Transportation Safety Committee.

The flight data recorder was brought by helicopter to Pangkalan Bun, the southern Borneo town that has been the base for the search effort, and then flown to Jakarta for analysis.

The black box looked to be in good condition, said Tatang Kurniadi, the head of the transport safety committee.

Investigators may need up to a month to get a complete reading of the data.

“The download is easy, probably one day. But the reading is more difficult … could take two weeks to one month,” the NTSC’s head investigator, Mardjono Siswosuwarno, said.

Over the weekend, three vessels detected “pings” that were believed to be from the black boxes, but strong winds, powerful currents and high waves hampered search efforts.

Dozens of Indonesian navy divers took advantage of calmer weather on Monday to retrieve the flight recorder and search for the fuselage of the Airbus.

Forty-eight bodies have been retrieved from the Java Sea and brought to Surabaya for identification. Searchers believe more bodies will be found in the plane’s fuselage.

Relatives of the victims have urged authorities to make finding the remains of their loved ones the priority.

“I told our soldiers that the search isn’t over yet,” Armed Forces chief General Moeldoko told reporters. “I am sure the remaining victims are in the body of the plane. So we need to find those.”

Indonesia AirAsia, 49 percent owned by the Malaysia-based AirAsia budget group, has come under pressure from authorities in Jakarta since the crash.

The transport ministry has suspended the carrier’s Surabaya-Singapore licence for flying on a Sunday, for which it did not have permission. However, the ministry has said this had no bearing on the crash.

President Joko Widodo said the disaster exposed widespread problems in the management of air travel in Indonesia.

AirAsia QZ8501: Plane tail lifted from seabed

AirAsia QZ8501: Plane tail lifted from seabed

Screen grab of the Indonesian navy's operation to retrieve the tail of the Air Asia plane
Divers used an inflatable device to pull the tail to the sea’s surface

The Indonesian navy has retrieved from the seabed the tail of the AirAsia plane that crashed two weeks ago.

Divers used an inflatable device to pull the tail to the sea’s surface.

They are also searching for the plane’s “black box” flight recorders, which officials believe have been separated from the tail section.

QZ8501 disappeared from radar in bad weather on 28 December with 162 people on board. It was flying from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore.

Forty-eight bodies have been retrieved so far. Search teams believe most of the remains may still be inside the fuselage of the plane, which has yet to be found.

On Friday, pings were detected in the Java Sea near where the tail was found. Officials said they could have come from the plane’s “black box” flight recorders.

Crucial cluesThe rear part of the Airbus A320-200 was spotted on Wednesday by an unmanned underwater vehicle at a depth of about 30m (100ft).

BBC News takes a look at where the black box might be located and how it could be retrieved

It was upside down and partially buried about 30km (20 miles) from the point of last contact with the plane, off the coast of Borneo, authorities said.

Search teams have been pulling bodies and wreckage from the sea but progress has been slow due to high waves and stormy weather.

The cause of the crash is unknown but the plane had encountered bad weather and asked for a flight path change before communication was lost.

The “black box” flight data recorders are usually housed inside the rear part of the plane.

They are designed to survive a crash and being submerged in water, and contain underwater locator beacons which emit the so-called “pings” for at least 30 days.

Finding them has been one of the top priorities for search teams as they provide crucial clues from the last moments of the flight before it came down.

BBC map

AirAsia jet may have made safe landing on sea before sinking, experts says

AirAsia jet may have made safe landing on sea before sinking, experts says

The pilot of AirAsia Flight 8501 may have landed the doomed plane on the ocean surface, only to have it sink in high seas, according to aviation experts, who cited the intact condition of several bodies as possible evidence for the theory.

“The emergency locator transmitter (ELT) would work on impact, be that land, sea or the sides of a mountain, and my analysis is it didn’t work because there was no major impact during landing,” Dudi Sudibyo, a senior editor of aviation magazine Angkasa, told the AFP. “The pilot managed to land it on the sea’s surface.”

The theory that passengers were alive at some point after impact appeared to be supported by Jusman Syafii Djamal, the former transport minister, who said that the fact that the emergency door was found intact may be evidence that the door was opened.

The Airbus A320 crashed into the Java Sea on Sunday with 162 people on board. Sixteen bodies have been recovered so far. Seven were announced Friday morning, six of which were found by a U.S. Navy ship, said Suryadi B. Supriyadi, operation coordinator for the National Search and Rescue Agency.

Jimmy Sponder, the CEO of Aviation Consultant Expert Solutions, was skeptical of the theory. Sponder, who told FoxNews.com that he worked for years on the same model plane that crashed, said there would have likely been survivors if the plane did land successfully.

More ships arrived Friday with sensitive equipment to hunt for the fuselage of AirAsia Flight 8501 and the more than 145 people still missing since it crashed into the sea five days ago.

Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas in Australia said there’s a chance the plane hit the water largely intact, and that many passengers remain inside it.

He added that bodies recovered so far would have come out with a breach in the fuselage. “But most passengers still should have had their seat belts on, particularly as the plane was going into weather. The captain would have still had the seat belt sign on.”

Much of the crash remains a mystery. It’s unclear what brought the plane down about halfway into its two-hour flight to Singapore. The jet’s last communication indicated the pilots were worried about bad weather. They sought permission to climb above threatening clouds but were denied because of heavy air traffic. Four minutes later, the airliner disappeared from the radar without issuing a distress signal.

The black boxes hold key data that will help investigators determine the cause of the crash, but they have yet to be recovered. Items found so far include a life jacket, an emergency exit door, an inflatable slide, children’s shoes and luggage.

Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said efforts would be stepped up as long as the weather allowed.

“We will focus on underwater detection,” he said, adding ships from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the U.S. had been on the scene since before dawn Friday to try to pinpoint wreckage and the all-important black boxes— the flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

But he said bad weather, which has hindered the search the last several days, was a worry. A drizzle and light clouds covered the area Friday morning, but rain, strong winds and high waves up to 13 feet were forecast until Sunday.

Strong sea currents have also kept debris moving.

Soelistyo estimated the fuselage was at a depth of 80 feet to 100 feet, and vowed to recover the bodies of “our brothers and sisters … whatever conditions we face.”

The longer the search takes, the more corpses will decompose and the farther debris will scatter.

Leaked image points to ‘unbelievably’ steep climb before AirAsia crash

Leaked image points to ‘unbelievably’ steep climb before AirAsia crash

Siva Govindasamy, Reuters

rp_291214air.jpg

Radar data being examined by investigators appeared to show that AirAsia Flight QZ8501 made an “unbelievably” steep climb before it crashed, possibly pushing it beyond the Airbus A320’s limits, said a source familiar with the probe’s initial findings.

The data was transmitted before the aircraft disappeared from the screens of air traffic controllers in Jakarta on Sunday, added the source, who declined to be identified.

“So far, the numbers taken by the radar are unbelievably high. This rate of climb is very high, too high. It appears to be beyond the performance envelope of the aircraft,” he said.

The source added that the data on which those assumptions had been made were incomplete. Colleagues and friends of the Indonesian captain on board have described him as an experienced and professional pilot.

The preliminary findings sharpen the focus on the role bad weather and the crew’s reaction to storms and clouds in the area had to play in the plane’s crash into the Java Sea which killed all 162 people on board.

Finding the six-year-old plane’s cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR), more commonly known as black boxes, was vital to complement the radar data already available.

“With the CVR and FDR, we can establish what went on in the cockpit and what was going on with the aircraft. We can conclude if the radar information is accurate,” added the source.

CLIMBING TOO SLOWLY?

At 6.12 a.m. on Sunday, 36 minutes after taking off from Surabaya’s Juanda Airport on a flight to Singapore, the pilot asked for permission to climb to 38,000ft from 32,000ft and deviate to the left to avoid bad weather.

Two minutes later, Jakarta responded by asking QZ8501 to go left seven miles and climb to 34,000ft. There was no response from the cockpit. The aircraft was still detected by the ATC’s radar before disappearing at 6.18 a.m.

An image that was reportedly leaked from AirNav Indonesia, which manages the country’s air space, and shared on several websites, appeared to show QZ8501 at an altitude of 36,300ft and climbing at a speed of 353 knots.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/12/RADAR.jpg
Radar image that was reportedly leaked from AirNav Indonesia. Source : Twitter

The source declined to confirm if that image was accurate. Officials from AirNav Indonesia declined to comment.

Two veteran pilots told Reuters that, if accurate, the image and information released so far pointed to the fact that the aircraft may have climbed suddenly and then lost speed.

This can result in the aircraft stalling in mid-air before plunging to the sea, they said.

One pilot explained that an A320 would cruise at a speed of around Mach 0.78 while at an altitude of 32,000ft. That translates into roughly 516 knots.

“If you encounter turbulence, you go slower at what we call the turbulence penetration speed to get through it. If you climb to avoid turbulence, you slow down to have a better climb rate. That could be around Mach 0.76,” he said. “But if you climb suddenly and start to lose speed, you will stall.”

The source close to the probe said other aircraft in the area at the time of the crash were flying at higher altitudes. Aircraft tracking website flightradar24.com said that they were at between 34,000 and 39,000 feet.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/12/AirAsia9.jpg
This picture taken and released by Presidential Palace shows Indonesian President Joko Widodo (C) speaking in an Air force aircraft Hercules C-130 during the search and locate (SAL) operation for the missing AirAsia flight.  (AFP Photo)

“We know that there was severe local weather and big clouds. But they (the other planes) were higher and did not appear to encounter any major problems. We want to look into that too,” added the source.

Industry sources told Reuters that there could be parallels between this incident and the crash of Air France flight AF447 in 2009.

The investigation into that Airbus A330 showed that the co-pilot lost speed readings due to icing on the airframe.

His panic reaction meant that he kept trying to climb despite repeated stall warnings, and the crew failed to recognize the situation, eventually sending the aircraft plunging into the Atlantic.

Incidents like these show that the margin for error at higher altitudes is smaller than at takeoff or lower down, say industry experts.

They add that the A320’s systems usually prevent pilots from doing anything outside usual safe flight parameters. But these protections can be disabled in some circumstances, handing control to the pilots and leaving it to manual flying skills.

Video: Bodies of AirAsia crash victims brought to land

Full coverage: AirAsia Flight QZ8501

AirAsia QZ8501: Officials say debris is missing plane

AirAsia QZ8501: Officials say debris is missing plane

Relative of victim at Surabaya airport - 30 December
Families had to endure an agonizing wait for news

Indonesian officials have confirmed that bodies and debris found in the Java Sea off Borneo are from AirAsia flight QZ8501 that went missing on Sunday, a statement by AirAsia says.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said he was “devastated” by the news.

President Joko Widodo told media he had instructed all search teams to focus on finding the passengers and crew.

The Airbus A320-200, carrying 162 people from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, disappeared on Sunday.

The head of Indonesia’s search operation, Bambang Soelistyo, says three bodies have been retrieved, not 40 as previously stated by naval officials.

President Widodo says efforts will focus on recovering bodies

The discovery came on the third day of searching. A navy spokesman said rescuers were “very busy now” with the salvage operation.

‘Families are priority’

The AirAsia statement said the remains were found in the Karimata Strait, south-west of Pangkalan Bun in the Borneo province of Central Kalimantan.

Mr Fernandes said: “I am absolutely devastated.”

He told a news conference there could now be an end to uncertainty for everyone involved.

“This is a scar with me for the rest of my life. It doesn’t change anything, there is at least some closure as opposed to not knowing what’s happened and holding out hope.”

The AirAsia statement said family members would be assigned care providers and an emergency call centre would be set up for those seeking information.

BBC map showing last communication of AirAsia flight QZ8501

Widya, wife of the pilot, Iriyanto - 30 December
The pilot’s wife (pictured right, with headscarf) was among those waiting for news at Surabaya airport

 

Indonesian air force crew carry what is believed to be slide from missing plane to military base in Pangkalan Bun - 30 December
Searchers have found what they think is the missing plane’s slide.

 

Debris floating in the Java Sea
Pictures of debris were taken by search and rescue aircraft.

 

In a news conference shortly after the discovery was confirmed, President Widodo urged relatives to be strong in facing “this difficult moment”.

“I have instructed all the teams to focus on finding the passengers and crew,” he said.

The first debris from the plane was spotted earlier on Tuesday. Pictures of debris and bodies were shown on Indonesian TV. Relatives of passengers on the plane watching the pictures were visibly shocked.

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At the scene: Alice Budisatrijo, BBC News, Surabaya airport

They had been hoping for a miracle, but in the end they had to watch the worst possible news.

Relatives of the passengers screamed and wailed as local television networks showed pictures of what was clearly a human body floating in the water.

Grown men put their hands to their faces. At least two people collapsed and were taken out of the room on stretchers.

The mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini, went from one crying relative to another, and at one point walked out with a grieving man, while telling him: “We don’t have a choice. Today this happens to you, tomorrow it may happen to me. Nobody knows. So you have to be strong. Our lives belong to God.”

It’s been a trying and exhausting wait for the more than 100 relatives who have been gathering in that room, but no-one could have been prepared for this ending.

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The head of the search operation, Mr Soelistyo, said that a shadow was also spotted under the water, which appeared to be in the shape of a plane.

All resources were now being sent to the area where the debris was found, he said.

Mr Soelistyo added that ships with more sophisticated technology were being deployed to check whether larger parts of the plane were submerged beneath the debris.

AFP journalist Bay Ismoyo, who took some of the first photos of the debris, said he saw “an orange object floating on the waters”.

“We saw an unusual object floating. We tried to zoom in and we recognised what looks like a life vest.”

At least 30 ships, 15 aircraft and seven helicopters joined the operation when it resumed at 06:00 local time on Tuesday (23:00 GMT Monday).

The operation, led by Indonesia, includes assistance from Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, with other offers of help from South Korea, Thailand, China and France. The US destroyer USS Sampson is on its way to the zone.

On board the plane were 137 adult passengers, 17 children and one infant, along with two pilots and five crew.

Most were Indonesian but the passengers included one UK national, a Malaysian, a Singaporean and three South Koreans.

AirAsia previously had an excellent safety record and there were no fatal accidents involving its aircraft.

At least 40 bodies, debris found in search for missing AirAsia plane

At least 40 bodies, debris found in search for missing AirAsia plane

FoxNews.com

At least 40 bodies have been found in the area where AirAsia Flight 8501 last made contact with air traffic controllers, along with debris from the plane.

The bodies were found in the Java Sea about six miles from the plane’s last known point of contact. The plane disappeared Sunday with 162 people on board traveling from Surbaya, Indonesia to Singapore.

The bodies were were not wearing life jackets, according to Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Director, SB Supriyadi.

Rescue workers were shown on local TV being lowered on ropes from a hovering helicopter to retrieve bodies. Efforts were hindered by 6-foot waves and strong winds, Supriyadi said, adding that several bodies were later picked up by a navy ship.

“The warship Bung Tomo has retrieved 40 bodies and the number is growing. They are very busy now,” a navy spokesman added.

Sky News also reports that the “shadow” of a jet has been spotted on the seabed.

Crews in dozens of planes, helicopters and ships looking for the aircraft discovered what appeared to be a life jacket and an emergency exit door, according to The Associated Press. Part of the plane’s interior, including an oxygen tank, was brought to the nearest town, Pangkalan Bun, along with a bright blue plastic suitcase that appeared to be in perfect condition.

Family members watched the graphic details unfold on local television. Indonesian television showed a half-naked bloated body bobbing in the sea. Many screamed and another man fainted and was rushed from the room on a stretcher.

Tony Fernandes, the CEO of AirAsia, offered his condolences in a message on his Twitter account.

Pilots of the jet had been worried about the weather on Sunday and sought permission to climb above threatening clouds, but were denied due to heavy air traffic. Minutes later, the jet was gone from the radar without issuing a distress signal.

The suspected crash caps an astonishingly tragic year for air travel in Southeast Asia, and Malaysia in particular. Malaysia-based AirAsia’s loss comes on top of the still-unsolved disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March with 239 people aboard, and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July over Ukraine, which killed all 298 passengers and crew.

Nearly all the passengers and crew are Indonesians, who are frequent visitors to Singapore, particularly on holidays.

Ifan Joko, 54, said that despite the tragic news he is still hoping for a miracle. His brother, Charlie Gunawan, along with his wife, their three children and two other family members, were traveling to Singapore on the plane to ring in the New Year.

“I know the plane has crashed, but I cannot believe my brother and his family are dead,” he said, wiping a tear. “… We still pray they are alive.”

Several countries are helping Indonesia retrieve the wreckage and the passengers.

The United States on Tuesday announced it was sending the USS Sampson destroyer, joining at least 30 ships, 15 aircraft and seven helicopters in the search for the jet, said Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo.

A Chinese frigate was also on the way, while Singapore said it was sending two underwater beacon detectors to try to detect pings from the plane’s all-important cockpit voice and flight data recorders. Malaysia, Australia and Thailand also are involved in the search.

Indonesia Seeks US Help Finding Plane

Indonesia Seeks US Help Finding Plane

Indonesian Air Force C-130 airplane searching for missing disappear airplane plane debris
A crew of an Indonesian Air Force C-130 airplane of the 31st Air Squadron uses binoculars to scan the horizon during a search operation for the missing AirAsia flight 8501 jetliner over the waters of the Karimata Strait in Indonesia, Dec. 29, 2014.

Indonesia has asked the United States for help in locating the AirAsia jet that went missing on Sunday carrying 162 people, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.

“Today we received a request for assistance locating the airplane, and we are reviewing that request to find out how best we can meet Indonesia’s request for assistance,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told a regular news briefing.

Rathke said the Indonesian request was made via a diplomatic note to the U.S. embassy in Jakarta. He declined to give details of the request.

The request came hours after the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said the missing AirAsia jet is likely on the “bottom of the sea.”

Bambang Sulistyo told reporters in Jakarta Monday the Airbus 320 with 162 people on board is presumed to have crashed Sunday off the Indonesia coast in the Java Sea.

AirAsia QZ8501 Flight Path map disappear missing search rescue
AirAsia QZ8501 Flight Path

“Based on the coordinates given to us and the evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is that the plane is at the bottom of the sea,” Sulistyo said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he has ordered a review of the country’s aviation procedures following the plane’s disappearance.

“I was very shocked and I could feel the concern, the frustration and the sadness experienced by the families of passengers, and I believe (this was) also felt by all the people of Indonesia,” Widodo said.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said 30 ships and 15 aircraft – both planes and helicopters – are involved in the search for the missing AirAsia flight that went missing early Sunday.

The vice president noted that Malaysia Flight 370, which vanished in March in deep waters off the coast of Australia, has still not been located, and other jetliners that went missing in recent years took months or longer to find.

Reports of debris

Indonesian authorities said debris sighted earlier Monday by an Australian search plane was not from AirAsia Flight 8501.

The AirAsia flight was about halfway through its route from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore when it disappeared Sunday morning.

The pilot had asked air traffic controllers for permission to ascend about 1,800 meters to avoid stormy weather.

An Indonesian Transport Ministry official said permission was denied because another plane was flying in the area. After that, communication went silent. Controllers did not receive any distress call from the pilot.

The head of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, said Sunday the airline’s top priority is taking care of the families of the passengers and crew, and fully cooperating with the investigation.

The passengers include 149 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one each from Britain, Malaysia, and Singapore. The seven-member crew included six Indonesians and a French co-pilot.

Aiding in search

A massive international search for the missing aircraft is ongoing. The United States, China and India are among the countries offering their resources for the operation in what is one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

Aircraft from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are already involved in the search over what is relatively shallow water – an average depth of 46 meters (150 feet).

Fernandes told reporters that until Flight 8501 on Sunday, AirAsia had “never lost a life.”

“We have carried 220 million people up to this point. Of course, there’s going to be some reaction. But we are confident in our ability to fly people. And we’ll continue to be strong,” Fernandes said.

The captain in command was quite experienced, with more than 20,000 flying hours – roughly 6,000 of those hours with Indonesia AirAsia in the cockpit of the Airbus A320.

The AirAsia plane is the second commercial airliner to disappear in 2014.

No confirmed debris has ever been found after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 lost contact while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March with 239 people aboard.

Did Mysterious Chinese Blogger Predict Disappearance of AirAsia Flight?

Did Mysterious Chinese Blogger Predict Disappearance of AirAsia Flight?

Weibo user warned travelers to avoid AirAsia in series of posts

by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON

Did Mysterious Chinese Blogger Predict Disappearance of AirAsia Flight?

A mysterious user of the Chinese social media network Weibo apparently predicted the disappearance on AirAsia Flight QZ8501 almost two weeks before the plane went missing, urgently warning Chinese nationals not to use the airliner in dozens of posts.

The report, carried by the Epoch Times, relates the story of how the individual “repeatedly warned people away from Malaysia Airlines (and) AirAsia.”


Related: What Really Happened To Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370?


“Do not become another victim of MH370,” warned the individual in a December 15 post, adding that AirAsia was about to be targeted by “powerful” forces which he referred to as the “black hand”.

“This is a life-saving message to Europe or the US tour, do not take AirAsia (or) Malaysia Airlines airliner,” states the translated version of one of the posts.

The user went on to assert that the “black hand” was out to “ruin AirAsia,” Malaysia’s second largest airline company. Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 went missing in March earlier this year, while MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July.

The individual repeated his warning in subsequent posts made on the 16th and 17th of December, writing, “This is a major event in human life, we have to pay attention,” adding, “far from AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines away, cherish life.”

Speculation on the Reddit forum by Chinese users suggests that the posts may have originally been made on the 15th but then later edited with the prediction about AirAsia added after the disappearance of Flight QZ8501.

The user made a total of 39 posts on the subject which were viewed by 650,000 people. After flight QZ8501 disappeared, users returned to the threads to express amazement at the individual’s prediction, speculating that he was an “insider” of some kind or connected to the Malaysian or Chinese government.

Investigators are still hunting for the wreckage of the AirAsia flight, which had 162 passengers on board when it disappeared during a flight from Surabaya to Singapore, with the head of Indonesia’s search-and-rescue team asserting that the plane is likely to be at the bottom of the sea.

No Chinese nationals were on Flight QZ8501 when it went missing.

A separate report carried by Russian news outlet Sputnik claims that “a relative of a missing passenger received a text message from an unknown sender, stating that the plane made an emergency landing and all passengers were alive,” although this was never subsequently confirmed.

Unidentified objects discovered in the Java Sea by an Australian AP-3C Orion patrol aircraft are not likely to be wreckage from the AirAsia Flight.

Officials: No sign of AirAsia Flight QZ8501; likely at ‘bottom of the sea’

Officials: No sign of AirAsia Flight QZ8501; likely at ‘bottom of the sea’

(CNN) — A second day in the search for a missing AirAsia plane proved fruitless Monday, with Indonesia’s top rescue official saying the commercial jet probably crashed into the sea.

“Our early conjecture is that the plane is in the bottom of the sea,” Bambang Sulistyo, the head of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency, told reporters, saying the view was based on the plane’s flight track and last known coordinates.

But searchers still don’t know exactly where the aircraft is, he said, and may need help from other countries for an underwater search.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501 disappeared in Indonesian airspace with 162 people aboard.

Ships, planes and helicopters are looking for the missing aircraft, led by Indonesia.

It’s unclear if weather played a role in the aircraft’s disappearance, but rescuers say it could be a factor that influences how quickly they find the plane.

airasia plane airplane

Large waves and clouds hampered the search for the plane Sunday, and bad weather at sea hampered search efforts again Monday. But Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla told reporters his country will not give up or set a time limit for the operation.

Authorities say they’re combing a “very broad search area.”

A possible oil slick within the search zone has been discounted as not being from an airplane, Indonesian authorities told CNN. Likewise, reports of a very faint flight recorder “ping” are false, Indonesian local media reported.

There were reports of objects found in the search zone, but given that the area has a great deal of traffic along the water, authorities have said objects found won’t automatically indicate a sign of the plane.

Kalla told CNN there were “some reports from Australia” about possible objects found, but it was unclear whether they were from the plane.

The aerial search will resume Tuesday.

What role did weather play?

Report: Higher altitude request denied

AirAsia says air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft at 7:24 a.m. Sunday, Singapore time (6:24 a.m. in Indonesia).

The plane, flying from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, went missing as it flew over the Java Sea between the islands of Belitung and Borneo — a heavily traveled shipping channel with shallow waters — Indonesian authorities said.

Before the plane, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with air traffic controllers, one of the pilots asked to change course and fly at a higher altitude because of bad weather, officials said. Heavy thunderstorms were reported in the area at the time.

Air traffic control approved the pilot’s request to turn left but denied permission for the plane to climb to 38,000 feet from 32,000 feet, Djoko Murjatmodjo, an aviation official at the Indonesian Transport Ministry, told the national newspaper Kompas.

The increased altitude request was denied because there was another plane flying at that height, he said.

Djoko suggested that Flight 8501 ascended despite air traffic control denying it permission.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said storm clouds caused the pilot to ask for a flight plan change. But he added, “We don’t want to speculate whether weather was a factor. We really don’t know.

Once the aircraft is found, there will be a proper investigation, Fernandes said.

In addition to Indonesia’s teams, several other countries have joined the hunt for the missing plane.

A C-130 plane from Singapore has been participating in the search, and the country’s military says it’s sending two more ships to the search area. Malaysia’s transportation minister said his country has deployed three vessels and three aircraft to assist in the search. And the Royal Australian Air Force said Monday that it was deploying a patrol plane to help.

The U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet said it stands ready to assist the search efforts but so far hasn’t been asked to help.

Indonesia has reached out to the United Kingdom, France and the United States for help with sonar technology that may be needed for an underwater search, Sulistyo told reporters Monday.

AirAsia CEO takes to Twitter

Anxious wait for relatives

Several dozen anguished family members of the passengers met with airport and airline officials in a closed-door briefing Monday at the airport.

As they waited for news, some relatives took cell phone pictures of a flight manifest posted on a wall. The black-and-white papers showed every passenger’s name and seat number, but not their fate.

Others simply sat and dabbed tears from their eyes.

Oei Endang Sulsilowati and her daughter were looking for information about her brother, his wife and their two children.

“We don’t know what to do,” Sulsilowati said. “We are just waiting for news.”

“Our concern right now is for the relatives and the next of kin,” Fernandes said during a news conference in Surabaya.

Some police said authorities were seeking additional materials to help identify passengers, such as photos with close-ups of teeth, DNA, or fingerprints. But police later told CNN they were not immediately seeking these materials.

East Java Police have set up a disaster victims identification area at the Surabaya airport.

Of the people on board the passenger jet, 155 are Indonesian, three are South Korean, one is British, one is French, one is Malaysian and one is Singaporean, the airline said.

Eighteen children, including one infant, are among the passengers, the carrier said. Seven of the people on board are crew members.

Families of AirAsia flight passengers given support through the ‘nightmare’

The MH370 mystery

AirAsia, a successful budget airline group headquartered in Malaysia, had a clean safety record until the disappearance of Flight 8501. The missing plane is operated by the company’s Indonesian affiliate.

The loss of contact with the plane comes nearly 10 months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which dropped off radar over Southeast Asia on March 8 with 239 people on board.

Searchers have yet to find any remains of Flight 370, which officials believe went down in the southern Indian Ocean after mysteriously flying thousands of kilometers away from its planned route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

But some aviation experts don’t think the search for Flight 8501 will be as challenging as the hunt for MH370.

“We are not talking about the deep Indian Ocean here,” CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest said. “We are talking about congested airspace around Southeast Asia. There will be much better radar coverage. There’s certainly better air traffic control coverage.”