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  • ​International search for QZ8501 powers up

​International search for QZ8501 powers up

As the search for a missing AirAsia Indonesia Airbus A320 aircraft enters its second day, several countries have deployed search assets.

The search will focus on waters east of Pulau Belitung, an island in the Java Sea, says Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarmas) in a statement. It will use assets in the land, air, and sea.

Initially, the search area of 120 by 240nm will be divided into four sectors. The first stage of the search will cover one week, at which point it will be decided if the search area is to be changed or extended. Basarmas warns, however, that inclement weather and rough seas could hamper search operations.

The search will involve helicopters, aircraft and ships belonging to Indonesia. As of the evening of 28 December, assets on scene to assist in the search for the missing aircraft included seven ships, with an eighth to arrive on the 29th.

In addition, two helicopters from the island of Bintan have been earmarked for the search. Several fixed wing aircraft will be deployed, in addition to air force helicopters.

Singapore has deployed two Lockheed Martin C-130 aircraft, Malaysia will also contribute a C-130. Malaysia and Singapore will also deploy three warships each. Australia has committed an AP-3C Orion aircraft.

It is not clear where the land-based search will be held, but it all but certainly will investigate Pulau Belitung itself.

Aside from the Basarmas statement, there are few other updates into the situation.

An updated AirAsia Indonesia statement, however, gave a revised experience figure for the lost aircraft’s pilot. Previously, it had given his total flying hours as 6,100 hours. It now states, however, that the pilot had a total of 20,537 hours, of which 6,100 are with AirAsia Indonesia. The aircraft’s first officer had a total of 2,275 hours, all of it apparently with AirAsia Indonesia.

On the morning of 28 December, flight QZ8501 disappeared with 155 passengers and seven crew aboard. Immediately prior to its disappearance, the pilot asked to ascend from 32,000ft to 38,000ft to avoid stormy weather. No distress called was received from the aircraft.

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