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AirAsia boss: This is my worst nightmare
Published:  Dec 28, 2014 11:36 AM
Updated: 11:59 PM

QZ8501 An AirAsia aircraft with 155 passengers and seven crew members on board has gone missing.

The Airbus 320-200 took off from Surabaya, Indonesia at 5.20am local time (6.20am Malaysian time) and was due to arrive in Singapore two hours later, but has lost contact with air traffic control.

Malaysiakini brings you the live updates of information as it comes in.

Latest developments

  • Air Asia boss Tony Fernandes says plane was in good condition


  • No oil slicks found, Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) not sending signal
  • Malaysia deploys one military aircraft and three vessels, with helicopters on board for the search
  • Malaysian on board identified as Sarawakian businessman
  • Indonesia denies confirming reports plane has crashed off Belitung island yet, still checking
  • AirAsia says aircraft requested flight path change due to weather conditions
  • Indonesia, Singapore launch search and rescue operations

    Report sighting in Kuching, cops urge

    11.49pm: Kuching police want those who claim to have seen an AirAsia plane flying low near Kampung Buntal there to lodge a report.

    Plane had no issues, no oil slicks found

    9.50pm: Air Asia group chairperson Tony Fernandes says the missing Airbus 320-200 cleared all checks last November.

    "The aircraft had gone through all checks at the end of november. It followed all proceduers needed and was good condition. it never had problems," he says at a press conference at the Juanda International Airport, Surabaya.

    He urges all not to speculate on the fate of the plane.

    Separately, Indonesia's Detik reports that the SAR team did not spot any oil slick in the 50 nautical miles it seached today.

    Aircrafts often attempt to dump fuel before emergency landings to reduce risk of fire.

    SAR chief Sulistyo tells also tells the Detik that there is no distress signal from the aircraft.

    "The Emergency Locater Transmitter (ELT) is still on the plane," he says.

    ELTs are distress radiobeacons which are either water-activated or activated through G-force, upon impact.

    Malaysian security forces send help

    8.34pm: The Malaysian security forces is assisting SAR efforts.

    The follow assets are deployed to join the SAR efforts when they resume tomorrow morning.

    • Royal Malaysian Air Force's C130 aircraft
    • Royal Malaysian Navy ships KD Pahang, KD Lekir and KD Lekui, with Fennec helicopters on board
    "The Ministry of Defence and Malaysian Armed Forces' primary objective at present remains to focus on the flood relief efforts along the Malaysian east coast," Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says in a statement.

    The Indian Navy is also on standby with three ships and a maritime surveillance aircraft, Indian media reports.

    Two ships are at Port Blair, the capital of the Indian teritory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while an offshore patrol vessels is on the way there from Chennai.

    My worst nightmare, says AirAsia boss

    7.30pm: AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes has described today's ordeal to be his "worst nightmare" but vows not to stop.

    In a series of tweets, Fernandes asks all his staff "to do their best for all guests".
    "As your group CEO I will be there through these tough times," he says.
    "Our priority is looking after the next of kin for all my staff and passengers," he adds.

    Search and rescue ends, to resume in morning

    7.30pm: The Indonesian authorities have ended today’s the search and rescue (SAR) operations as night falls, Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla is reported saying.


    Harian Metro reports the SAR operations will resume tomorrow morning.


    Weather at the SAR area is also reportedly getting worse, hampering the team's efforts as the year end northeast monsoon is at full blast.

    At this juncture the Indonesian authorities have still not confirmed the fate of the passenger craft.

    Malaysian on board identified as Sarawakian

    6.35pm: The sole Malaysian passenger on board AirAsia flight QZ8501 has been identified as Sii Chung Huei.

    According to New Straits Times , Sii is a Jakarta-based businessman who hails from Kuching.

    The daily quoted his relatives confirming they have been informed by AirAsia about Sii being on the missing flight.

    The search and rescue operations has yet to provide any update on the progress of their efforts or conclusions about the plane's fate.

    6.24pm: In an unrelated incident, NST reports another AirAsia flight AK6242 from Penang to Langkawi has turned back due to technical difficulties.

    5.50pm: The flight manifest released by the Indonesian Transport Ministry shows that 23 people who were supposed be on the plane did not board.

    Out of the original manifest of 177 passengers, only 154 passengers boarded the plane, according to British news website Mirror.

    All the 23 who missed the flight did not check-in for their flight.

    5.30pm: In a statement, flight manufacturer Airbus says the flight was delivered to Air Asia in October 2008, making the flight six years old.

    "Powered by CFM 56-5B engines, the aircraft had accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights. At this time no further factual information is available," it says.

    The company says that it will provide "full assistance" to those investigating the incident.

    "The Airbus A320-200 is a twin-engine single-aisle aircraft seating up to 180 passengers in a single-class configuration. The first A320 entered service in March 1988. By the end of November 2014, over 6000 A320 Family aircraft were in service with over 300 operators.

    "To date, the entire fleet has accumulated some 154 million flight hours in some 85 million flights," it further says.

    It also puts on record its thoughts with those affected by incident.

    5.20pm: Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai says Malaysia has deployed a C-130 Hercules craft and three vessels to aid with the search and rescue operations.

    He adds that Malaysia has established a Rescue Operations Centre (RCC) at the Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control Centre (ATCC) to aid with the rescue coordination.

    Jokowi prays for best

    4.40pm: Indonesian president Joko Widodo says he hopes for the best for flight QZ8501.

    "We are all praying, I and all of the people of Indonesia.

    "We pray for the safe return of all the passengers and crew of AirAsia QZ8501, which has lost contact," Tribunnews quotes him saying.

    In a related development, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says he is saddened by the incident.

    Lee adds he has spoken to Jokowi to offer Singapore's help, according to a Twitter posting.

    He adds Singapore has two C-130 search and locate aircraft on standby to assist Indonesia.

    Meanwhile, Reuters reports that US president Barack Obama, who is on holiday in Hawaii, has been briefed on the situation.

    AirAsia group CEO heads to Surabaya

    4.20pm AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes announces he is en route to Surabaya to monitor the situation.

    "On my way to Surabaya where most of the passengers are from as with my Indonesian management," he says on Twitter.

    He adds his thoughts are with the passengers and crew of the missing aircraft.

    "We put our hope in the search and rescue operations and thank the Indonesian, Singapore and Malaysian governments," he tweets.

    3.40pm: Indonesian government officials are denying reports they have confirmed the plane crashed east of Belitung as some media have reported, saying the information is still not verified.

    Astro Awani reports based on Indonesian Aviation and Communications Ministry director, Djoko Murjatmodjo's comments that the team is still looking for signs of wreckage around the area where the plane was last reported to have been seen.

    3pm: According to CCTV News quoting Indonesian authorities, there is "no possibility" for QZ8501 to continue flying hours after losing contact as it only had fuel to last four and a half hours.

    The flight lost contact midway through its route to Singapore, during which it was flying mostly over water.

    2.40pm: Indonesian national news agency Antara reports that the plane crashed about 145km from Belitung island.

    The news agency had quoted a National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) official as saying so, according to Jakarta Post .

    The A320 is believed to have circled around in order to avoid a storm before experiencing severe turbulence and then crashing into the sea.

    2.35pm: Transport Minister Liow Tong Lai arrives at AirAsia's headquarters.

    In a Twitter posting, Liow says he is there to show is support for the airliner.

    "Currently at AirAsia headquarters to support our team in this moment of crisis. Let us lend our support to them," he adds.

    Liow says Flight QZ8501 is an Indonesian plane lost over Indonesian airspace and therefore the country will take the lead.

    Nonetheless, he says that Malaysia is prepared to give its support.

    Liow is also expected to hold a press conference later.

    2.30pm: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak tweets that he is "very sad" to hear that AirAsia Indonesia QZ8501 is missing.

    "My thoughts are with the families. Malaysia stands ready to help," he adds.

    2.25pm: China's CCTV News tweets that a plane wreckage has reportedly been found in the east of Belitung Island in Indonesia.

    No details have been divulged in the tweet, and there has been no confirmation from AirAsia or any authorities on this matter.

    1.30pm: In an updated statement, AirAsia says the aircraft requested deviation from its flight path due to weather conditions before communications with the Indonesia Air Traffic Control (ATC) was lost.

    It also confirmed that the flight had 162 people on board, with 155 passengers, two pilots and five cabin crew.

    As for the breakdown, 156 of them were Indonesians (including two cabin crew), three South Koreans, one Singaporean, one French national and one Malaysian.

    The Indonesian Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is spearheading the search and rescue operations.

    "The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours," the statement says.

    "The aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November 2014," it adds.

    1.25pm: Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai's media officer has denied that the minister will be holding a press conference on the lost of the aircraft.

    AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes in a text message says the aircraft involved is AirAsia Indonesia and therefore the press conference will be held in Jakarta.

    In Jakarta, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation's Air Transport director Djoko Murjatmodjo says Flight QZ8501 went missing shortly after informing air traffic control that it was facing thick clouds.

    He said the aircraft, which was flying at 32,000 feet, turned to the left to avoid the thick clouds, according to the press conference streamed on Kompas TV.

    PM: Chances are something bad has happened

    1.20pm: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak says Malaysia is prepared to aid Indonesia in its efforts to locate the plane.

    "Chances are, something bad has happened to the plane. That's all we know for now and we will help to find out what had happened to the plane," he says, according to a Bernama report.

    Meanwhile, AirAsia founder and group CEO Tony Fernandes says AirAsia will be releasing another statement on the plane's disappearance soon, and that he thanks people for their support and prayers.

    His tweet has since drawn widespread support from the online community.

    1pm: According to aviation tracking website FlightRadar24 , Flight QZ8501 disappeared from the radar northwest of the Java Sea.


    The nearest land mass ahead of its trajectory are Pulau Belitung and Pulau Bangka.


    According to the flight tracker portal, the aircraft with registration number PK-AXC had previously taken off from Kuala Lumpur at 8.45pm (local time) last night and landed safely in Surabaya at 10.20pm (local time). 


    However, the aircraft appeared to face trouble in its subsequent flight the next morning to Singapore.


    The status of the aircraft on the website is now listed as unknown.

    12.50pm: CNN Indonesia reports that the last known location of the plane is believed to be around the island of Belitung, off the east coast of Sumatra.

    It lies roughly a third of the distance to Singapore from Surabaya along the flight path.

    This is according to Indonesia's Transportation Safety Commission official Tatang Kurniadi, who says that the authorities are now zeroing in on the flight's exact last known location.

    A team of search and rescue operators are on their way towards Belitung right now, he adds.

    12.35pm: Indonesian news agency is reporting that there have been sightings of a plane having crashed off the island of Belitung, Indonesia - though the exact location has not yet been verified.

    A village chief in Beltim reportedly received a call from one his villagers about a flight crashing off Belitung island, and he has notified authorities regarding the news.

    162 people on board

    12.24pm: The following is the statement released by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore:

    An Indonesia AirAsia aircraft, QZ8501, scheduled to arrive at 0830 hours local time from Surabaya, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 0724 hours local time today.

    Singapore air traffic control was informed of this loss of contact at 0754 hours by Jakarta air traffic control.

    The aircraft was in the Indonesian Flight Information Region (FIR) when contact was lost, more than 200 nm southeast of the Singapore-Jakarta FIR boundary.

    Search and rescue operations have been activated by the Indonesian authorities from the Pangkal Pinang Search and Rescue office.

    The Singapore Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC), managed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and supported by various agencies, including the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), has also been activated and has offered help to the Indonesian authorities.

    Two C130s are already on stand-by for this purpose. We remain ready to provide any assistance to support the search and rescue effort. The CAAS and Changi Airport Group (CAG) Crisis Management Centres have already been activated. We are working with the airline’s crisis management team.

    A waiting area, and all necessary facilities and support have been set up for relatives and friends of the affected passengers at Changi Airport Terminal 2 (Level 3).

    Further updates will be provided once more information is available.

    12.12pm: According to the Straits Times , the flight has 162 people on board, with 155 passengers.

    • 149 Indonesians
    • 3 Koreans
    • 1 British
    • 1 Singaporean
    • 1 Malaysian
    Early figures show that there are 138 adults, 16 children and 1 baby on board the flight, which has been missing for about four hours now.

    There are seven crew members - one pilot, one first officer, an engineer and four flight attendants.

    In addition, AirAsia has notably changed its Facebook profile picture to black and white shortly after confirming that it has lost contact with the flight.

    The move has been followed by other AirAsia regional Facebook pages, such as AirAsia Korea and AirAsia Philippines.

    11.43am: AirAsia Indonesia issues a statement on the disappearance:

    AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501

    AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 0724 hours this morning.

    The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC.

    At this time, search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service.

    AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.

    AirAsia will release further information as soon as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website,

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