Sunday, December 28, 2014


   Jakarta, Dec 28, 2014 (Antara) - As the year 2014 nearly ends, the world has been shocked by news reports on an AirAsia plane with 162 people aboard that has gone missing after losing contact with air traffic control on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city, to Singapore, Sunday morning (Dec. 28).
         Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 lost contact after the pilot asked to climb higher to avoid bad weather over sea area between Bangka Belitung (Sumatra) and West Kalimantan.
         There was bad weather over Belitung at the time and the aircraft had been flying at 32,000 feet before asking to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds.
         The aircraft, an Airbus 320-200 carrying 155 passengers and seven crew, took off from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya at 5:36 a.m. local time, and lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 a.m. The plane was scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 08:30 a.m. local time.  

    Based on the data of Angkasa Pura I airport management company, the plane  has two pilots -  Captain Iriyanto and First Officer (FO) Remi Emmanuel Plesel, four cabin crew members - Wanti Setiawati, Khairunnisa Haidar Fauzi, Oscar Desano, and Wismoyo Ari Prambudi, as well as a technician, Saiful Rakhmad.

         AirAsia Indonesia said seven foreigners are among passengers of the missing plane.
         "In total, there are seven foreign citizens. However, we have to wait for further confirmation regarding their names," AirAsia Indonesia's Communication officer Malinda Yasmin said in a press statement.
         The foreign nationals consist of three Koreans, a Singaporean, a British, a Malaysian and a First Officer (FO) from France.
         "While, 155 others including crew members are Indonesian nationals," she said.
         The aircraft's pilot, Captain Iriyanto is an experienced pilot having a total of 20,537 flight hours and 6,053 flight hours with AirAsia Indonesia. The FO, Remi E Plesel, has 2,247 flight hours.
         Following the tragic news, three neighboring countries - Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia, as well as other countries such as Britain, the United States, and South Korea have offered to help in the search of the missing plane, and any investigation.  
    Acting Air Transportation Director General Djoko Murjatmodjo said offers had come from a number of countries including Singapore, Australia, Britain, South Korea and the United States.
         "Until now we still use the national capacity only to search for the aircraft," Djoko said.
         Djoko said the government accepts and appreciates the offer but the government still relies on the national capacity.   
    Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi also confirmed that  Singaporean and Australian governments had offered  to help search for the missing plane.
         "The Singaporean and Australian governments have called to convey the offers, after this I will also call back the Malaysian minister," she said.
         Minister Retno Marsudi stated that the ministry has set up a special team to stand by at the Changi Airport, Singapore and Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Jakarta.
         Later, all foreign assistance will be coordinated by the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) of Indonesia.
         Reuters reported that Malaysia 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.
         European aircraft maker Airbus also offered to help in the investigation of the missing Airbus A320 aircraft.
         Senior Consultant of Airbus Ameer Brontoari said in a statement in line with an international agreement ICAO Annex 13, Airbus would provide full assistance in the investigations.
         The aircraft rolled out from the assembly plant and was handed over to AirAsia  in 2008, the statement added.   Airbus A320-200 has a double engines with single-aisle and a seat capacity of 180 passengers.
         The first unit of A320 to fly was in March 1988  and so far more than 6,000 units of the aircraft were operated by 300 operators in the world.  
    The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) has coordinated the search and rescue operations which are underway and involved a number of parties, including the Transportation Ministry, the Indonesian Air Force, and AirAsia management.
         Indonesian Air Force's Boeing 737 Surveiller has joined the search operation for finding the AirAsia aircraft.
         "We are going to comb the missing aircraft's flight route," Indonesian Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Hadi Tjahjanto said in his special interview with a private TV station.
         For the purpose of the search mission, command posts have been set up, each at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta, and at Supadio Airport in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, he said.
         The search operation, however, was halted as darkness fell, and the Indonesian authorities will resume the search on Monday morning.
         Indonesian Vice President M Jusuf Kalla expressed his hope that the aircraft could be found as soon as possible.
         "We pray that AirAsia plane that has lost contact, can be found and all passengers and crew survive," Kalla wrote on his official twitter following news reports on the missing plane. ***3***

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