An AirAsia plane with 162 people on board disappeared on Sunday while flying over the Java Sea after taking off from Indonesia's second-largest city for Singapore. The two countries immediately launched a search and rescue operation for Flight QZ8501, but there was no sign of the plane more than seven hours after it lost contact with ground control, AP reported.
AirAsia, a regional low-cost carrier founded in 2001 by Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, said in a statement that the missing Airbus A320-200 was on the submitted flight plan route. However, it had requested deviation due to weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of Indonesian Air Traffic Control.
"We don't dare to presume what has happened except that it has lost contact," Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia's acting director general of transportation, told reporters. He said the last communication between the pilot and air traffic control was at 6:13 a.m. (2313 GMT Saturday) when the pilot "asked to avoid clouds by turning left and going higher to 34,000 feet (10,360 meters)."
He said there was no distress signal from the cockpit.
The Twitter handle @flightradar24, which tracks air traffic in real time from all around the world, tweeted the flight plan of the missing airplane.
"#QZ8501 was flying on FL320. Other aircraft in same area were flying on FL340-FL390," it said.
The time is now 4:42 UTC which means that #QZ8501 has been missing for 5h and 30min. Search and rescue operation underway.— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) December 28, 2014