AirAsia Flight QZ8501: Full Updates, Facts & Analysis

UPDATES:

  1. 30 December 2014: Flight QZ8501 crashed in Java Sea, no survivors yet, 30 causalities confirmed; Officials
     

  2. 4 January 2015: SAR operations continue for the 7th day, 46 bodies recovered; more wreckage found; black boxes not yet found
     

  3. 5 January 2015: Total of 37 bodies found; of which 13 have been identified
     

  4. 5 January 2015: BASARNAS says Indonesia AirAsia not authorized to operate flight route taken by QZ8501 on Sundays; carrier had approval from Singapore authorities
     

  5. 6 January 2015: 16 bodies have been identified; 2 more bodies recovered bringing total count to 39. Black boxes (CVR, and FDR) not yet found despite international search effort with specialized equipment
     

  6. 7 January 2015: 2 more bodies have been recovered bringing the total number to 41, 24 have been identified and passed to families
     

  7. 7 January 2015: The tail section of PX-AXC has been visually located, black boxes believed to reside within. Recovery of tail section has not yet been initiated as darkness fell soon after
     

  8. 8 January 2015: 2 more bodies were recovered bringing the total number to 43, only 1 additional body was identified today. Search area concentrated around where tail debris was found; however SAR efforts suspended by 1100 GMT+8 due to poor weather and low visibility. Recovery of tail section did not proceed mainly due to poor weather and strong under currents
     
  9. 9 January 2015: 5 bodies recovered, bringing official count to 48. 2 more bodies identified, bringing total identified bodies to 27
     
  10. 9 January 2015: Search area for today has not changed, weather conditions slight more favorable before noon, worsened towards evening. Tail section still yet to be recovered, black boxes not yet located
     
  11. 9 January 2015: Indonesian Transport Ministry says 6 Indonesian airliners flouted total of 61 route schedules; Indonesia AirAsia included. Disciplinary action will be taken against 11 officers from the ministry who were directly involved in AirAsia's unscheduled route
     
  12. 10 January: No additional bodies recovered, total remains at 48. 1 more body identified, totaling 28. Bad weather continues to be hindrance
     
  13. 10 January: Partial tail section of PX-AXC brought to surface by SAR team using inflatables. 2 black boxes not recovered. Search (~500m radius) for the 2 black boxes continues, with area approximating where initial "pings" were first detected
     
  14. 12 January: No additional bodies recovered, total body count at 48. 34 bodies have been identified as of day's end, while 14 are still being identified
     
  15. 12 January: Flight Data Recorder (FDR) was recovered in the morning at 0811 GMT+8; found under wing wreckage approximately 30m underwater
     
  16. 12 January: SAR Chief says search for bodies and human remains still top priority; teams also searching for Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), the other of the airplane's Black Boxes

    13 January: No additional bodies recovered, total body count at 48. 36 bodies have been identified (2 more from the 12th), while 12 are still being identified
     

  17. 13 January: Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) was recovered in the morning, approximately 20m from where the Fight Data Recorder (FDR) was recovered
     

  18. 13 January: BASARNAS says both FDR and CVR will be flown to Jakarta where they will be examined and analyzed by Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee
     

  19. 14 January: 2 additional bodies were recovered, total body count at 50. 38 bodies have been identified (2 more from the 13th), while 10 are still being identified. The 2 newly recovered bodies are en route to the designated hospital for identification
     

  20. 14 January: BASARNAS confirms that fuselage has been located together with most of the airplane's right wing. They were found within the second focused primary area by an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) of the Singapore Navy
     

  21. 14 January: BASARNAS says recovery of newly found wreckage of fuselage and right wing to commence tomorrow
     

  22. 15 January: No additional bodies were recovered, total body count at 50. 39 bodies have been identified (1 more from the 14th), while 9 are still being identified. The 2 newly recovered bodies on the 14th are still en route to the designated hospital waiting for identification
     

  23. 15 January: Singapore Navy officially ends SAR operations a day after discovering the main wreckage of the airplane's fuselage and right wing. The Singapore fleet will now head home; Singapore is not participating in recovery operations
     

  24. 15 January: Wreckage of fuselage and right wing was not recovered today primarily due to turbulent waters and bad weather. Recovery operations will recommence tomorrow
     

  25. 16 January: 1 additional body was recovered, total body count at 51. 40 bodies have been recovered 91 more from the 15th), while 8 are still being identified. The 2 bodies recovered on the 14th are still en route to the designated hospital for identification; the newly recovered body is also en route to the same hospital for identification
     

  26. 16 January: Wreckage of fuselage and right wing was again not recovered today due to turbulent waters and bad weather. Recovery operations will recommence tomorrow, hopefully with results


Synopsis*

*From Wikipedia

Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 (QZ8501/AWQ8501) was a scheduled international passenger flight, operated by AirAsia Group affiliate Indonesia AirAsia, from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. On 28 December 2014, the aircraft operating the route, an Airbus A320-216, crashed in bad weather, killing all 155 passengers and 7 crew on board. Debris from the plane and human remains were found two days after the crash in the Karimata Strait. Recovery is in progress.

The accident is the second-deadliest on Indonesian territory, behind Garuda Indonesia Flight 152 in 1997, and the second-deadliest involving an A320, behind TAM Airlines Flight 3054 in 2007. It was also AirAsia Group's first fatal accident since its founding in 1996.


Day 20 (16 January 2015)


Day 19 (15 January 2015)


Day 18 (14 January 2015)


Day 17 (13 January 2015)


Day 16 Gallery (12 January 2015)


Day 13 Gallery (9 January 2015)


Day 12 Gallery (8 January 2015)


Day 11 Gallery (7 January 2015)


Day 10 Gallery (6 January 2015)


Day 9 Gallery (5 January 2015)


Day 8 Gallery (4 January 2015)


Day 7 Gallery (3 January 2015)


Day 6 Gallery (2 January 2015)


Day 5 Gallery (1 January 2015)


Day 4 Gallery (31 December 2014)


Day 3 Gallery (30 December 2014)


Day 2 Gallery (29 December 2014)


Day 1 Gallery (28 December 2014)



Although this was first posted in the Daily Grail, it deserves a separate post on its own on Insight.

In what has to be the most heart wrenching year in modern civil aviation history, another civilian airplane has vanished without a trace over an area spanning between Indonesia and Borneo. As of 30 December 2014, it is assumed at all 162 people on board Flight QZ8501 were lost after officials confirmed that the airplane has crashed in the Java Sea. The confirmation was made at approximately 1740 GMT+8 by Indonesia officials.

The actual A320-216 airplane (PX-AXC) which operated Flight QZ8501 on 28 December 2014 (Image taken at Singapore's Changi Airport, 8 May 2012)

The actual A320-216 airplane (PX-AXC) which operated Flight QZ8501 on 28 December 2014 (Image taken at Singapore's Changi Airport, 8 May 2012)

The passenger manifest of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, indicating that there were 23 people who did not board the airplane on the fateful 28 December 2014

The passenger manifest of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, indicating that there were 23 people who did not board the airplane on the fateful 28 December 2014

Earlier this year in March, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China lost radio contact with Malaysian ATC while flying over the South China Sea towards Vietnam. Almost 9 months after its mysterious disappearance, the Boeing 777-200ER airplane that serviced MH370 is still not found, nor have parts that belonged to the aircraft been found despite extensive international search efforts across millions of square miles over the Indian Ocean. The conclusion of MH370 is still open ended, but consensus is that it has crashed in open waters West of Australia. MH370 was carrying 239 passengers in total, the world has never heard from them since.

The flight in question is QZ8501 operated by an affiliate of AirAsia, AirAsia Indonesia whose parent company is PT Fersindo Nusaperkasa. The firm was founded in December 2004 under the brand "Awair". As we go to print, the airplane is still missing after 48 hours since it broke contact with Jakarta ATC. No distress signal was given.

QZ8501 was a regional flight servicing the common flight route from Surabaya in east Java, to Singapore. Below are some of the details we have compiled about the flight and airplane:

  • Flight QZ8501 was carrying 155 passengers & 7 crew member (passenger manifest)
    • 144 adults; 17 children and 1 infant
    • Indonesia: 155
    • South Korea: 3
    • France; Malaysia; Singapore; UK: 1 each
       
  • There were 23 people who had purchased tickets for the 28 December 2014 Flight QZ8501 but failed to board; they have been expressing shock to various news media
     
  • QZ8501 departed Juanda International Airport (runway 10), Indonesia (0635 GMT+8) and was scheduled to arrive at Singapore's Changi Airport (0830 GMT+8)
    • ETD: 0620 GMT+8 (15 minute delay)
    • ETA: 0830 GMT+8 (never arrived)

Captain Iriyanto, in a photo provided by his daughter, Angela Anggi Ranastianis

Captain Iriyanto, in a photo provided by his daughter, Angela Anggi Ranastianis

Iriyanto is shown with his wife, Widya, and two children, in a photo provided by his daughter, Angela Anggi Ranastianis

Iriyanto is shown with his wife, Widya, and two children, in a photo provided by his daughter, Angela Anggi Ranastianis

Relatives of Iriyanto, the captain of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, including his wife, Rr Widya Sukati Putri, gathered at his house in Surabaya, Indonesia, on 30 December 2014. Iriyanto’s wife sits second from the right, in the red scarf

Relatives of Iriyanto, the captain of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, including his wife, Rr Widya Sukati Putri, gathered at his house in Surabaya, Indonesia, on 30 December 2014. Iriyanto’s wife sits second from the right, in the red scarf

  • Captain: Iriyanto

    • Left Air Force around 1995 to join Adam Air, then Merpati Nusantara Airlines, and Sriwijaya Air
    • Began career in Indonesian Air Force flying F-5 Phantoms & F-16s; graduated from aviation school in 1983
    • 20,537 flight hours, 6,100 with AirAsia Indonesia on Airbus A320
    • Indonesian National
First Officer (Co-Pilot) of Flight QZ8501, Rémi Emmanuel Plesel, is picture in shades inside the cockpit of a AirAsia Indonesia airpane

First Officer (Co-Pilot) of Flight QZ8501, Rémi Emmanuel Plesel, is picture in shades inside the cockpit of a AirAsia Indonesia airpane

Rémi Emmanuel Plesel in an undated photograph

Rémi Emmanuel Plesel in an undated photograph

  • First Officer: Rémi Emmanuel Plesel
    • French National
    • 2,275 flying hours with AirAsia Indonesia
       
  • Flight crew
    • 4 Flight Attendants
      • Wanti Setiawati
      • Oscar Desano
      • Wismoyo Ari Prambudi
      • Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi
         
    • 1 Engineer-on-board
      • Saiful Rakhmad
         

The WSJ has more on how the Captain's family is coping with the loss of their father:

Angela Anggi Ranastianis, 25, recalled the day the plane her father was piloting went missing: “We heard the news from TV at around 10 a.m., my mom collapsed instantly,” she told The Wall Street Journal on Friday. The loss has been the second blow the family has suffered in the span of two weeks, coming after Capt. Iriyanto’s younger brother succumbed to illness.
At home, Capt. Iriyanto was known as a warm character by his closest relatives and neighbors. He was also an active community member. “He is in charge for the mosque maintenance, if there’s anything need a repairing, he is the man,” his neighbor Bagianto Djojonegoro, 64, said.
Ms. Ranastianis said she and her dad were big fans of motorbikes. They have four at home, including a Ninja Kawasaki and a Honda Gold Wing, which was parked by a gazebo in front of the family’s two-story house. She said they usually toured around the city on weekends.
  • Aircraft details
    • Airbus A320-216
    • Delivered to AirAsia Indonesia on 15 October 2008
    • First flight on 25 September 2008
    • 23,000 flight hours over 13,600 flights (short haul flights implied)
    • Last maintenance was on 16 November 2014
    • Maximum passenger load of 180 with latest seat configuration
    • Serial number 3648
    • Registration code PK-AXC

  • Known flight path
    1. After takeoff from Runway 10 of Surabaya Juanda Airport, airplane turned left tracking 329° over Java Sea
    2. Ascended to Flight Level 320 (FL320) of altitude 32,000 ft at 0654 GMT+8 (19 minutes after takeoff)
    3. After FL320 was attained, airplane turned left to 319°
    4. 10 minutes later, airplane turned left slightly to 310°
    5. At 0712 GMT+8, QZ8501 contacted Jakarta ATC informing deviation to the left of their planned route along airway M-635 to avoid clouds
    6. QZ8501 also requested a climb to FL380 of altitude 38,000 ft; ATC declined request citing busy traffic on airspace above FL320
    7. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Transport QZ8501 was still on radar at 0716 GMT+8
    8. At 0717 GMT+8, only the ADS-B signal was visible with QZ8501 disappearing at 0718 GMT+8
    9. AirAsia claimed last contact was made at 0724 GMT+8; later proven incorrect
    10. Flight QZ8501 declared missing by authorities at 0755 GMT+8
    11. Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency begins SAR operations at 1122 GMT+8, with Singapore's Civil Aviation Authority joining efforts at 1130 GMT+8
    12. At 1141 GMT+8, AirAsia made public facts about the incident through social media
  Transcript of events culminating to the radio silence and subsequent disappearance of Flight QZ8501. Data via FlightRadar24, maps via Google

 

Transcript of events culminating to the radio silence and subsequent disappearance of Flight QZ8501. Data via FlightRadar24, maps via Google

  • Weather conditions were not optimal for flight. A meteorological analysis revealed that the aircraft was traversing a storm cluster during the minutes prior to its disappearance
    • Graphic below indicates QZ8501 was at the outskirts of a storm cluster when contact was lost
    • QZ8501 was flying into an area of substantially cooler air temperatures and of lower pressures
    • Past experiences have proven such conditions have the potential to harbor strong and sudden downdrafts which can quickly disable a airplane even at cruising altitude
      • Downdrafts are strong vertical columns of air traveling downwards in great quantities; cold air being denser, falls while hot air being less dense, rises
      • In storm clusters, the center of the cluster usually sees an area of higher pressure or warmer air; the outer regions of such clusters usually brings about cooler air. Convection currents are what enable these vertical drafts to sustain themselves within storm clusters
Wikipedia states: Flight path, superimposed on false-color water-vapor-band infrared satellite image at 07:32 WIB. Blue represents warmer temperatures, while red and ultimately black represents the cold tops of high-altitude clouds

Wikipedia states: Flight path, superimposed on false-color water-vapor-band infrared satellite image at 07:32 WIB. Blue represents warmer temperatures, while red and ultimately black represents the cold tops of high-altitude clouds

  • Cargo wise, there was nothing that the relevant authorities had found suspicious. We have included the load and trim data, as well as the flight dispatch form for our readers' reference
    • Indicates that there was 8,296kg of fuel in the airplane's 3 tanks prior to takeoff
    • An estimated 5,121kg was for the actual flight with the residual as standard margin
    • This implies that QZ8501 could not have remained airborne for longer than 211 minutes (3 hours 31 minutes) based on rough calculations
    • The airplane would have ran out of fuel by 1006 GMT+8, around 3 hours 10 minutes after last contact with Jakarta ATC
The Load and Trim Sheet of Flight QZ8501 on 28 December 2014 indicates that there was 8,296kg of fuel in the airplane's 3 tanks prior to takeoff; an estimated 5,121kg was for the actual flight with the residual as standard margin. This implies that QZ8501 could not have remained airborne for longer than 211 minutes (3 hours 31 minutes) based on rough calculations; the airplane would have ran out of fuel by 1006 GMT+8, around 3 hours 10 minutes after last contact with Jakarta ATC

The Load and Trim Sheet of Flight QZ8501 on 28 December 2014 indicates that there was 8,296kg of fuel in the airplane's 3 tanks prior to takeoff; an estimated 5,121kg was for the actual flight with the residual as standard margin. This implies that QZ8501 could not have remained airborne for longer than 211 minutes (3 hours 31 minutes) based on rough calculations; the airplane would have ran out of fuel by 1006 GMT+8, around 3 hours 10 minutes after last contact with Jakarta ATC

The Flight Dispatch Release Form shows no anomalies. It is important to check the fuel levels and ensure the actual readings tie up with figures on the form. However, Flight QZ8501 being a short haul trip, lessens the margin for error in case of negligence. Having lost contact after just 43 minutes post takeoff, less than 2,000kg of fuel would have been spent (accounting for takeoff and ascent to cruising altitude). It was unlikely QZ8501 lost contact because it ran out of fuel

The Flight Dispatch Release Form shows no anomalies. It is important to check the fuel levels and ensure the actual readings tie up with figures on the form. However, Flight QZ8501 being a short haul trip, lessens the margin for error in case of negligence. Having lost contact after just 43 minutes post takeoff, less than 2,000kg of fuel would have been spent (accounting for takeoff and ascent to cruising altitude). It was unlikely QZ8501 lost contact because it ran out of fuel


Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations

The god fellas contributing to Wikipedia have done an impeccable job at summarizing the otherwise messy affair of the still on going SAR operations which at last check consisted of at least 90 marine vessels (official vessels, not counting those voluntary mariners sailing the Java Sea for subsistence) and probably just as many aircraft souring the shorelines and waters of the dark Java Sea. SAR operations are now operating on a two-pronged approach: 1) Finding the remains of all 162 people on board flight QZ8501; 2) Locating critical pieces of debris and the 2 black boxes (Flight Data Recorder; Cockpit Voice Recorder).

Shortly after the plane was confirmed to be missing, unconfirmed reports stated that wreckage had been found off the island of Belitung in Indonesia. Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) deployed seven ships and two helicopters to search the shores of Belitung and Kalimantan. The Indonesian Navy and the provincial Indonesian National Police Air and Water Unit each sent out search and rescue teams. In addition, an Indonesian Air Force Boeing 737 reconnaissance aircraft was dispatched to the last known location of the airliner.

The Indonesian Navy dispatched four ships by the end of the first search day and the Air Force deployed aircraft including a CASA/IPTN CN-235. The Indonesian Army deployed ground troops to search the shores and mountains of adjacent islands. Local fishermen also participated in the search.

Ongoing search and rescue operations were under the guidance of the Civil Aviation Authority of Indonesia. The search was suspended at 7:45 pm local time on 28 December due to darkness and bad weather, to be resumed in daylight. An operations center to coordinate search efforts was set up in Pangkal Pinang. The search area was a 270-nautical-mile (500 km) radius near Belitung Island.

Singapore’s 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), had also initially deployed a C-130 Hercules aircraft to aid in the search and rescue operation. An officer from Singapore will be deployed to Jakarta to coordinate with the Indonesian authorities on the search operations, and two more C-130 Hercules aircraft will be deployed for the second day of the search and rescue operation. A Formidable-class frigate, a Victory-class corvette, a Landing Ship Tank, and a submarine support and rescue vessel subsequently took part in the search and rescue after Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency accepted the offer of help from the Republic of Singapore Navy. BASARNAS also accepted an offer from Singapore’s Ministry of Transport of help from specialist teams from the Air Accident and Investigation Bureau and underwater locator equipment.

The Malaysian government set up a rescue coordination centre at Subang and deployed three military vessels and three aircraft, including a C-130 Hercules, to assist in search and rescue operations. Australia deployed a P-3 Orion to assist in the search and rescue operations India put three ships and P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft on standby for assistance in the search operation, including one ship in the Bay of Bengal and another in the Andaman Sea. Elements of the United States Navy joined the search effort following a request by the Indonesian Government. The USS Sampson (DDG-102) arrived on station late on 30 December to contribute to search efforts. The USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) was also placed on alert to sail from Singapore if required.
— Wikipedia
Map visual retrieved from Wikipedia, illustrates the key points and corresponding details. Note that last Radar contact was at 0717 GMT+8, last ADS-B transponder signal was at 0718 GMT+8; data from FlightRadar24 ceases at 0712 GMT+8, but does not mean ADS-B signal was lost. Debris field is South-East-East of coordinates from last Radar transmission

Map visual retrieved from Wikipedia, illustrates the key points and corresponding details. Note that last Radar contact was at 0717 GMT+8, last ADS-B transponder signal was at 0718 GMT+8; data from FlightRadar24 ceases at 0712 GMT+8, but does not mean ADS-B signal was lost. Debris field is South-East-East of coordinates from last Radar transmission


Search Areas

The search area on 28 December itself was unconstrained by parameters; there was no official search area and efforts only lasted around 7 hours from mid-day local time to 1930 in the evening. Turbulent weather, and rough seas had hampered SAR operations on the very first day. Usually, in the immediacy of such emergencies, teams are scrambled without neatly planned directives. However, having covered the events of Flight MH370, we feel that the response to Flight QZ8501 was swifter and remarkable more organized that that of the former. The following graphics courtesy of the WSJ illustrates the search areas on the second and third day (29 and 30 December 2014). However, as stated in the previous section, initial discovery of debris was just slightly South-East of the last known location of the aircraft. Logically, 2 day's worth of drift couldn't have taken the floating debris far from the impact zone.

This graphic by the WSJ depicts the size of Monday's (29 December 2014) search area spanning the Java Sea tracking the actual flight path and the projected flight path of the airliner

This graphic by the WSJ depicts the size of Monday's (29 December 2014) search area spanning the Java Sea tracking the actual flight path and the projected flight path of the airliner

A day after futile efforts to locate the A320 operating Flight QZ8501, the official search area on Tuesday (30 December 2014) has more than doubled according to this WSJ graphic

A day after futile efforts to locate the A320 operating Flight QZ8501, the official search area on Tuesday (30 December 2014) has more than doubled according to this WSJ graphic

Following Tuesday's (30 December 2014) confirmation of Flight QZ8501's crash in the Java Sea, SAR operations were prioritized to comb the surrounding areas for bodies and any possible remains of casualties. In most cases, because the composition of human body is less dense than sea water, bodies usually float for the first few days; after which they start to decompose and breakaway. There is also the high possibility that some organic remains will be eaten by predators roaming in the waters. Search efforts farther from the existing debris field have been called off and resources have been concentrated in the epicenter of the crash. Since New Year's Day (1 January 2015), ships equipped with side-scanning sonor


AirAsia Was A Tad Too Late In Upgrading Fleet With Satellite Tracking System

The WSJ has again highlighted to the public on the importance of real-time tracking of commercial flights via updated technology, rather than relying on analog equipment and methods to determine vital flight statistics of commercial aircraft.

It is now known from industry insiders that AirAsia has indeed been upgrading its fleet with Inmarsat's satellite tracking technology which sends pockets of data via satellite in 2-minute intervals, which in turn transmits flight data to ground-based receivers for respective channel routing. As a primer, Inmarsat was the English company that provided breakthroughs in official investigations into Malaysia Airline's still missing MH370. Analysts feel that in hindsight, absent Inmarsat's valuable augmentations to the direction of MH370's investigative approach, officials would not be searching deep under the Indian Ocean, West of Australia.

AirAsia was upgrading its fleet of short-haul jets to make them easier to track, but hadn’t modified the aircraft that disappeared on Sunday.

The budget airline is an early adopter of a dedicated tracking service, ahead of an industry push to comprehensively follow planes in flight.

Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 was bound for Singapore from the Indonesian city of Surabaya when air-traffic control lost contact with the plane, sparking a so-far fruitless search for the Airbus Group NV A320 jetliner and the 162 people on board. Officials said the search area is being widened as the effort stretches into a third day.

AirAsia, which owns 49% of the Indonesian carrier, had earlier this year begun deploying satellite communications on some of its A320s to provide position updates every two minutes, said Chris McLaughlin, vice president external affairs at satellite services provider Inmarsat PLC. The missing plane wasn’t yet modified, he said. Inmarsat provides access to the satellite network on which the tracking service runs.

The airline couldn’t immediately be reached to comment.

Air Asia’s move underscores a broader debate in the aviation community about how, and how fast, to adopt tracking technology. That debate ratcheted up significantly after the disappearance this year of Malaysia Airline’s Flight 370.

Knowing more precisely the last location of the A320 jet before it lost contact could have aided search-and-rescue teams by narrowing the area to scour for clues of the plane’s location.

AirAsia is rolling out onboard Wi-Fi for passengers using a satellite link that also will deliver the position updates, Mr. McLaughlin said. The airline announced in August it would undertake in-flight connectivity trials before progressively deploying the system across its fleet. Formal commercial service launched last month, it said.

Indonesian officials Monday said they suspected the missing jetliner was likely at “the bottom of the sea.” No signal has been detected from the emergency transmitters used to locate a plane’s “black boxes” that contain data that can be crucial in determining the cause of an accident. The beacons attached to the two devices are designed to last at least 30 days.

Uncertainty over the location of planes that crashed into the ocean have hindered previous searches. The issue, which gained attention in 2009 after the crash of an Air France jetliner, regained the spotlight after the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Limited information on the Malaysia Airlines jet’s location hampered the search for the plane that remains missing. Investigators relied on another Inmarsat service, used principally on long-haul planes, to help narrow the zone where search teams are still active.

Though planes are watched by ground-based radar and are connected by satellite through much of their flight, vast areas around the world remain where airliners are in touch with air-traffic control only sporadically.

The loss of Flight 370 bound from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people onboard triggered the establishment of an industry task force to fix the monitoring shortfall. The group this month called for the creation of a global system to track airliners, though cautioned that it could take years before it is fully implemented.
— The Wall Street Journal

Secondary & Primary Radar

MH370's radio transponders are believed to have been forcefully disabled manually or by an unknown fault, rendering the airplane invisible to ground-based secondary radar systems which rely on planes' transponders to respond to interrogations. Secondary radar is therefore also called active radar because it requires airplanes to respond via through their transponders.

Primary radar, or what is known as military radar, doesn't require the response from airplanes' transponders to locate them; they are also called passive radar because of its operating principal. The downside of primary radar is that it is impossible with this operating principal to determine an airplane's altitude; only speed and coordinates can be calculated but with margins of error. Military radar isn't used for civilian aviation but proved to be invaluable during the former stages of investigation into MH370's mystery. Even after ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast) transponders were disabled on MH370, primary radar stations located on the coastlines of Malaysia were able to approximate the airplane's location until it flew out of range. It was all guesswork after that, that is of course until Inmarset stepped into the breech.

Satellite Tracking

Persons familiar with avionics will understand that ADS-B is a form of mutual communications system at involves the integral use of satellites. The key difference between Inmarset's network and ADS-B is that the latter requires ground stations as its first point of receipt while that of Inmarset has direct communications with geo-stationary satellites in orbit.

Secondary radar polling and ADS-B remains the most pervasive form of real-time tracking for commercial flights, and one can already see the issue that lies within. Once airplanes get out of range of ground stations, ADS-B and secondary radar stops functioning in form because flight information doesn't get transmitted, even though it is being measured.

Common flight corridors across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans that cover vast expanse of water essential puts airplanes that transverse across these paths in a vacuum, unless they have been equipped with direct-satellite terminals. With systems akin to what Inmarset offers, which Flight MH370 was equipped with, it is possible to very accurately determine not only the location but the vital flight stats via "Satellite Telex", in which flight information gets transmitted to ground based receivers almost spontaneously (with some latency of course); this happens regardless of an airplane's location because the series of satellites that are in orbit practically covers the entire surface of the Earth.

The maritime industry relies almost solely on "Satellite Telex" for navigation in vast open waters. Primary radar is also used but as a contingency for collision avoidance. In the wake of Flight MH370's tragedy, various aviation and transportation bodies have been picking up slack by making it mandatory for carriers to implement these vital changes as part of an industry-wide overhaul that has been long overdue. Unfortunately for AirAsia Indonesia, it came a little too late.


Update (1430 GMT+8): Debris Spotted On Aerial Recon

The BBC has broke news that aerial SAR (Search And Rescue) teams have spotted debris floating on waters within the search area. Pictures below.

An orange-colored object is seen floating on waters of the official search area Tuesday (30 December 2014, reported around 1415 GMT+8)

An orange-colored object is seen floating on waters of the official search area Tuesday (30 December 2014, reported around 1415 GMT+8)

An orange-colored object is seen floating on waters of the official search area Tuesday (30 December 2014, reported around 1415 GMT+8). This particular piece of debris does indeed look similar to an inflated life vest but we require high resolution images to verify this possibility

An orange-colored object is seen floating on waters of the official search area Tuesday (30 December 2014, reported around 1415 GMT+8). This particular piece of debris does indeed look similar to an inflated life vest but we require high resolution images to verify this possibility

Search Area Now Covers 13 Zone Over Land & Sea: BBC Reports (30 December 2014, 1430 GMT+8)

Indonesian officials say search teams have spotted debris at sea in the hunt for missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

Several objects were seen floating in the Java Sea off the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, in one of the search zones for the plane.

Indonesian officials said the find was the most significant so far in the search.

Indonesian Search and Rescue spokesman Yusuf Latif told the Associated Press news agency that aircraft had been dispatched to pick up the debris for checking.

”This is the most significant thing, but we cannot confirm anything until the investigation is completed,” he said.
— BBC

Share Prices Of AirAsia X Bhd Spike After Debris News Broke; Gains Reversed

AirAsia X Bhd and AirAsia Bhd both trade on the KLSE (Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange). They were both down south of 8% on Monday's trading session on a knee jerk reaction (pre-open) to Sunday's devastating news. Although we will find time to do further analysis on AirAsia Indonesia's liabilities arising form this catastrophe, the price action these past 2 days seem to be indicative of a penchant presence of hope. Earlier on Tuesday (at around 1510 GMT+8), news broke that aerial SAR teams have spotted and pictured what seemed to be debris floating on waters of the Java Sea (see above sections). This sparked buying in stocks of AirAsia X Bhd but those of its parent were blase. As seen below, those momentary gains were quickly reversed. Until material evidence is publicized, it is all guesswork and speculation. Markets seem to be erring on the safe side for now.

An 8% decline in market capitalization doesn't reflect the severity of Flight QZ8501's crisis, in our humble opinion.

Sudden buying in stocks of AirAsia X Bhd didn't see follow through; even those of its parent were nonchalant to the innocuous news of debris. Markets remain sanguine for a miracle

Sudden buying in stocks of AirAsia X Bhd didn't see follow through; even those of its parent were nonchalant to the innocuous news of debris. Markets remain sanguine for a miracle


Indonesian Officials "Sure" Debris Was From Flight QZ8501

A little over an hour and a half after AFP reported that aerial SAR teams spotted and photographed what seemed to be floating debris in the designated search area spanning the Java Sea, Indonesian Officials have announced to news outlets that they are "95% sure" said debris was from the fateful Flight QZ8501, implying that the Airbus A320-216 had crash landed in the Java Sea after it lost contact with ATC on Sunday morning local time. Bloomberg has more of the news, straight from the horse's mouth:

The Indonesian Navy found objects suspected to be an emergency door and underwater objects resembling a plane, F.H. Bambang Sulistyo, head of the national search and rescue agency, said in Jakarta. Indonesia is sure that objects found are part of the AirAsia aircraft, Sulistyo said.

“I as national search and rescue coordinator at this moment confirm 95%, confirm 95%, the location that’s pictured here is the location of the debris as well as objects that are suspected to have come from the plane,” he told reporters. “The 5% left is because at this moment, I haven’t seen it directly. I haven’t seen with my own eyes the emergency exit door. But in communication with commanders on the ground they have stated that it’s the emergency exit door.”

“As a result I confirm that the location and those objects are parts, are parts of the plane that we’re searching for,” he said.

Finding debris, and then the black box recorders that hold information about the aircraft, is key to discovering why the Airbus Group NV A320 aircraft went down after departing from the central Indonesian city of Surabaya. The international search began Dec. 28th when the plane disappeared off radars after the pilot requested a higher altitude because of clouds in the flight path.
— Bloomberg

As always, we wait for the actual press release from the local aviation authorities to confirm without any probability of doubt that Flight QZ8501 has indeed crash landed.


6 Bodies Found & 3 Recovered; Ongoing Developments

The BBC has much more details, a lot of them not on firm ground as the air is filled with froth after Indonesian officials essentially "confirmed" the crash of Flight QZ8501 in the Java Sea. It seems that after nearly 59 hours after Flight QZ8501 lost radio contact with Jakarta ATC, revelations are starting to billow out the chocked chimney, lots of soot and tears everywhere. The task on the ground now is obviously to search for survivors and locate the main site of the crash or impact. Analysis will come later, the main goal now is to spell out in clear font, the facts of this fateful incident. This has very quickly turned into an international effort with even distant countries offering a hand. Meanwhile, we hope for the best but prepare for the worst outcome.

The BBC reports:

The bodies were spotted along with debris floating in the Java Sea off the Indonesian part of Borneo, in one of the search zones for the plane.

One official said the debris was 95% likely to be from the missing aircraft.

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

During a news conference by the head of the operation, shown live on Indonesian TV, pictures of the debris were shown including a body floating on the water.

Relatives of passengers on the plane watching the pictures were visibly shocked.

Later, reports from officials and media in Pangkalan Bun, a nearby town in Central Kalimantan province, said six bodies had been found and at least three recovered.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted to the families: “My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences.”

Search operation head Bambang Soelistyo said he was 95% certain the objects shown were from the plane, adding that a shadow was spotted under 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, and all objects or bodies found would be taken to Pangkalan Bun, 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.

Indonesian civil aviation chief Djoko Murjatmodjo, quoted by AFP news agency, said “significant things” such as a passenger door and cargo door had been found.

He added that the objects had been found 160km (100 miles) south-west of Pangkalan Bun.

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.

Earlier, Indonesian officials said they were investigating reports of smoke seen rising from an island close to Belitung island, one of the focal points of the search, though experts cautioned it could be unrelated to the missing plane.

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.
— BBC

UPDATES TO COME AS WE SEE THEM, STAY TUNED