AirAsia Flight From Indonesia is Missing, Airline Says

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air_asia_missing_reuters_650NewZNew (Bangkok) :  Indonesian authorities were searching for an AirAsia aircraft on Sunday after air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane, the airline said. The plane, Flight QZ8501, left the Indonesian city of Surabaya with about 160 people onboard and was bound for Singapore, officials said.

“At this time, search-and-rescue operations are in progress, and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service,” the airline said in a statement. Air traffic control lost contact with the plane, an Airbus A320-200, at 7:24 Sunday morning, the airline said.

AirAsia, which is based in Malaysia, is one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines and competes with Malaysia Airlines, which lost contact with Flight 370 in March. That flight remains missing and is one of the enduring mysteries in aviation history.

A copy of the manifest posted to detik.com, an Indonesian news site, showed 155 people on board including 16 children and an infant; it listed 15 people as “no-show.” Trikora Raharjo, the general manager of Juanda Airport in Surabaya, told The Associated Press that there were six crew members. Flightradar24, a website that uses a global system of beacons to monitor air traffic, said the aircraft was flying at 32,000 feet over the Java Sea when the aircraft’s signal was lost. The Java Sea separates the islands of Borneo and Java.

Flightradar24 said there were several aircraft flying in the vicinity of Flight QZ8501 when the signal was lost. According to the flight tracking function on AirAsia’s website, the aircraft left Surabaya seven minutes after its scheduled departure of 5:20 a.m.

Hadi Tjahjanto, a spokesman for the Indonesian Air Force, said the air force had dispatched a Boeing 737 to the area to search for the aircraft. “From what we know from the radar, their last position was flying over the sea,” Hadi said on Indonesian television. He said the plane’s last reported position was 127 nautical miles from Palangkaraya, a town on Borneo with an airport.