An AirAsia jet with 162 people on board disappeared Sunday while flying from western Indonesia to Singapore on a scheduled two-hour flight. Here’s a look at the key developments.
__ Air Asia Flight 8501 takes off from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, at 5:31 a.m. Sunday (2231 GMT Saturday), bound for Singapore.
__ The last communication between the pilot and air traffic control is made at 6:13 a.m. (2313 GMT Saturday), when the pilot asks to turn left and climb to 10,360 metres (34,000 feet) to “avoid clouds,” according to Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia’s acting director general of transportation, who also says there was no distress signal from the cockpit.
__ AirAsia says the Airbus A320-200 was on the submitted flight plan route. Murjatmodjo says it is believed to have gone missing somewhere over the Java Sea between Tanjung Pandan on Belitung island and Pontianak, on Indonesia’s part of Borneo island.
__ Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency says dense storm clouds were detected up to 13,400 metres (44,000 feet) in the same area at the time the plane was reported to have lost contact.
__ A search and rescue operation is launched involving Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Three Indonesian aircraft are dispatched to the area, while Singapore’s air force and navy search with two C-130 planes. Indonesia says 200 rescuers were deployed to the east side of Belitung island. The air search is suspended at nightfall, and is set to resume at 6 a.m. Monday (2300 GMT Sunday).
__ Dozens of relatives of people aboard the plane gather in a room at Surabaya airport to await word about their loved ones. Among the passengers were three South Koreans and one each from Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. The rest were Indonesians.
__ Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, AirAsia’s chief and the face of the company, tweets, “This is my worst nightmare.” He flies to Surabaya, where he says at a news conference that the focus should be on the search and the families. “We have no idea at the moment what went wrong. Let’s not speculate at the moment,” he says.
__ In a separate incident later Sunday, an AirAsia flight carrying more than 150 passengers experiences a technical problem about 10 minutes after taking off from Penang, Malaysia, and has to return to the airport, AirAsia says. The flight takes off again for the short flight to Langkawi island and safely reaches its destination.