Dec 282014

11c1115 - AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Airbus A320 Missing

Low-cost carrier AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 Airbus A320-200, Registration Number PK-AXC en route from Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore has apparently lost contact with air traffic control at approximately 6:18 am (local Surabaya time) this morning, confirms Indonesian Transport Ministry authorities on Sunday, December 28, 2014. Airbus media statement released today is provided below in the Appendix.

Photos Credit: AFP, AirAsia A320-200, Cover Photo Credit: ACHDIYATMA REZA, Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320-200 PK-AXC in the air near Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International Airport in April 2014, via Mashable.

AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 was scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 8:30 a.m. local time (00:30 GMT) and was listed as “delayed” on the flight arrivals board at Changi Airport in Singapore.

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The air carrier’s chief, Tony Fernandes, educated at the London School of Economics, and came to AirAsia from outside the airline industry, tweeted: “Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. We must stay strong,” reports BBC News this morning. Airbus released a statement announcing the aircraft manufacturer “will provide full assistance to the French safety investigation authority, BEA, and to the authorities in charge of the investigation.”

The aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on November 16, 2014.

AirAsia officials and Indonesian media have confirmed the passenger nationalities, which include 156 Indonesians, three people from Korea, and one person each from Singapore, United Kingdom and Malaysia were on board. Of the flight deck and cabin crew nationalities, one is French and five are Indonesian. There were 23 no-shows, according to the flight manifest, reports Mashable.

Until we know more about the fate of all the 156 passengers and 6 crew on board AirAsia Flight QZ8501, our warmest thoughts and heartfelt prayers are with you along with your loving families and friends, who are waiting for any news during these extremely stressful moments.

Captain Irianto, pilot of the airline’s missing flight QZ8501, in command had a total of 20,537 career flying hours of which 6,100 flying hours with the air carrier. Whereas, the first officer, a Frenchman named Remi Emmanual Plesel, logged a total of 2,275 flying hours with the air carrier, AirAsia authorities announced.

The Telegraph (U,K.) and The Associated Press have compiled useful timelines of the missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501 shown here.

Weather Conditions Allegedly Altered Flight QZ8501 Akin to Flight AF447.

The Airbus 320-200 departed from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya at approximately 05:32 am (local Surabaya time), carrying 155 passengers (138 adults, 16 children, and 1 infant) as well as, two AirAsia pilots, one flight engineer, and four AirAsia flight attendants on board, as the airliner allegedly traveled through an area of heavy thunderstorm activity.

“Southeast Asia, including parts of Indonesia, has been struck by unusually heavy monsoon rains this month that have caused severe flooding and forced nearly 160,000 people to evacuate their homes in Malaysia and Thailand,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

According to AirAsia Indonesia early Sunday morning, “the aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to en route weather before communication with the aircraft was lost, while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC).”

AirAsia QZ8501 flight deck to State-owned AirNav Indonesia, which provides air-navigation services, reportedly at about 6:12 am (local Surabaya time), “requested permission to increase altitude from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to get around tons of tropical storms in the area, as shown in the weather maps below via Mashable.

Standard operating procedures called for AirNav Indonesia to establish a crisis center lead by director of Civil Aviation at the Tower of Jakarta Airport.

Acting Air Transportation Director General Djoko Murjatmodjo said to Associated Press, “Jakarta air controllers had given the plane a green light to veer away from its flight path, but not to ascend to 38,000 feet, because of traffic conditions and pending confirmation with other controllers.” There were seven aircraft passing through the area at that time at flight levels between 29,000 feet and 38,000 feet. Neither of these seven aircraft encountered any difficulties.

Six minutes later at 6:18 am (local Surabaya time), as AirAsia Flight QZ8501 commenced with its climb, the Airbus A320-200 disappeared from radar, which is a slight discrepancy from earlier reports stating about 6:36 am (local Surabaya time), according to a timeline chronicled on Twitter by the Indonesia Transport Ministry.

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Location Map Credit: The Telegraph (U.K.)

35775bc - AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Airbus A320 MissingLocation Map Credit: @RT_com

According to tweets by Steve Herman (@W7VOA) on December 27, “ Transport Ministry spokesman: Last contact from was pilot request for permission to change altitude due to bad weather.” “MT @EarthUncutTV: Satellite image around time went missing, very vigorous thunderstorms (black) north of Surabaya”

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Photo Credit: Aviation Herald. Temperature coding false color Satellite Image MTSAT, December 28, 2014 00:32Z

“Ton of convection(storms) in the area where the missing plane would be located,” Tweets Matt Daniel (@mattdanielwx), 11:13 PM – 27 Dec 2014

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There were supposedly highly turbulent black storm cells, as part of the above weather map. Such black cells can reach very high altitudes in the range of airliner cruise, and could feature heavy winds and lightning with large hail stones that could possibility be injected into the aircraft engines like bullets, causing foreign object damage and high cycle fatigue failure of engine parts during the tragic moments of flight QZ8501.

Analogous to what happened five-years ago with Air France flight AF447 back in 2009, which tumbled into similar ice crystal-like inter-tropical convergence storms, while cruising over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil, at higher altitudes there is a much higher probability of engine stall, primarily due to less oxygen in the air alongside varying temperature distribution affecting engine power during highly turbulent tropical storms.

Moreover, such tropical storm conditions shown in the weather map above may have also supposedly caused distortion of air flow inside the engine intake that may have in all probability induced engine stall, thus allegedly causing flight QZ8501’s Airbus A320 airliner to literally fall out of the sky into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia.

Something clearly happened on-board all three lost airliners – AF447, MH370, AirAsia QZ8105

Human judgement is the cause of nine of ten aviation safety mishaps. Oftentimes, some external factor comes into play that may cause on-board human operators of airliners beyond their control to lose their best judgement under crisis. Clearly, AF447 pilots, and perhaps even the pilots of MH370 and AirAsia QZ8105, panicked inside the fog of rapidly performing under severe safety crisis, while adhering to the ole’ adage —aviate, navigate, communicate.

Chaos discovered on-board AF447. Damn it, we’re going to crash,” reported The Telegraph (U.K.) on April 28, 2012, regarding AF447 pilot’s last words on the early morning hours of June 1, 2009.

With the wreckage and flight-data recorders lost beneath nearly 3 miles of the mid-Atlantic Ocean, experts were also forced to speculate back in 2009 for well over 2-3 years using the only data available: “a cryptic set of communications beamed automatically from the aircraft to the airline’s maintenance center in France.”

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The AF447 mystery might have never been solved, were it not for the remarkable recovery of AF447’s ‘black boxes’. Upon the analysis of their contents, the French accident investigation authorities were then properly positioned to verify their initial suppositions of the Airbus A330-200 safety breach. An even fuller picture of the arliner’s safety mishap emerged with the French publication entitled, Erreurs de Pilotage (Volume 5), by pilot and aviation writer, Jean-Pierre Otelli, which includes the full-transcript of the AF447 pilots’ conversation.

Hopefully, once again, ‘black-boxes’ of AirAsia QZ8105’s Airbus A320-200 and MH370’s Boeing 777-200ER will be recovered. Indeed, that will be international breaking news. Just as much as recovery of the ‘black-boxes’ of 2009’s Airbus A330-200 loss of AF447 was back in 2011.

Once more, it’s time to put the ‘black-box’ in ‘the cloud.

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Photo Credit: MEHDI FEDOUACH, AFP/Getty Images. The flight data recorders from Air France flight AF447 lost in the mid-Atlantic Ocean is displayed in front of journalists during a press conference in 2011.

A synopsis of what occurred during the course of the doomed Air France flight AF447’s Airbus A330-200 airliner’s final few minutes is here.

As Popular Mechanics found in their cover story about the crash, “the data implied that the plane had fallen afoul of a technical problem — the icing up of air-speed sensors — which in conjunction with severe weather led to a complex “error chain” that ended in a crash and the loss of 228 lives.”

The official document released by French accident investigators echoed human error, reported The Telegraph (U.K.), back on April 28, 2012. “There is no doubt that at least one of AF447’s pilots made a fatal and sustained mistake, and the airline must bear responsibility for the actions of its crew. It will be a grievous blow for Air France … And the reason for that fatal lack of awareness lies partly in the design of the control stick — the “side-stick”— [then] used in all Airbus cockpits.”

The mystery of the AF447 crash had taken three years to resolve. AF447 involved just as costly of an international search across the mid-Atlantic, covering 17,000 square kilometers of hazardous unmapped sea bed to depths of 4,700 meters (about 2.92 miles). Equally as remote as MH370’s Boeing 777-200ER presumed southern Indian Ocean location, and AirAsia QZ8105’s Airbus A320-200 supposed Java Sea location, were the hazardous southern waters along the equator between Brazil and Africa, in which the AF447 Airbus A330-200 plunged.

After nearly two years, “robot submarines located the aircraft’s flight recorders, a near-miraculous feat that reopened the biggest crash inquiry since Lockerbie,” The Telegraph (U.K.) said.

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“Prior to the recovery of the recorders, the cause of the [AF447] disaster could only be inferred from a few salvaged pieces of wreckage and technical data beamed automatically from the [Airbus A330-200] aircraft to the airline’s maintenance center in France. It appeared to be a failure of the plane’s pitot (pronounced ‘pea-toe‘) tubes — small, forward-facing ducts that use airflow to measure airspeed. On entering the storm [in which AF447 suddenly flew into in the early morning hours of June 1, 2009], these had apparently frozen over, blanking airspeed indicators and causing the autopilot to disengage. From then on the crew failed to maintain sufficient speed, resulting in a stall which, over almost four minutes, sent 228 people plummeting to their deaths.”

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“But why? Normally an Airbus A330-200 can fly itself, overriding unsafe commands. Even if systems fail there is standard procedure to fall back on: if you set engine thrust to 85 per cent and pitch the nose five degrees above the horizontal, the aircraft will more or less fly level. How was it that three pilots trained by a safe and prestigious airline could so disastrously lose control? Either there was something wrong with the plane, or with the crew. Airbus and Air France, both with much to lose, were soon pointing accusing fingers at each other,” questioned The Telegraph (U.K.) on April 28, 2012, once the AF447 mystery was clearly reaching resolution.

The Telegraph (U.K.) further questioned: “But the airline’s case seemed thin. All indications suggested the aircraft had functioned just as it was designed. The black box recordings showed that the plane was responsive to the point of impact. The case against the pilots looked even worse, when a transcript of the voice recorder was leaked. It confirmed that one of the pilots had pulled the stick back and kept it there for almost the entirety of the emergency. With its nose pointed too far upwards, it was little wonder that the Airbus had eventually lost momentum and stalled. But this analysis begs the question: even if one pilot got things badly wrong, why did his two colleagues fail to spot the problem? The transcript of increasingly panicky conversations in the cockpit suggests they did, but too late.”

This was further confirmed by technical experts of Popular Mechanics. “We now understand that, indeed, AF447 passed into clouds associated with a large system of thunderstorms, its speed sensors became iced over, and the autopilot disengaged. In the ensuing confusion, the pilots lost control of the airplane, because they reacted incorrectly to the loss of instrumentation and then seemed unable to comprehend the nature of the problems they had caused. Neither weather nor malfunction doomed AF447, nor a complex chain of error. [Rather instead, what doomed AF447 was] a simple but persistent mistake on the part of one of the pilots.”

Search and Rescue of Missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Has Commenced.

Search and rescue operations are being conducted under the guidance of the Indonesia Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.

“Air force spokesman, Marsma Hadi Tjahjanto, confirmed that the Air Force was using the last point of contact to conduct an air search,” according to Sunday morning reports of Russian news service.

AirAsia Indonesia is “cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service and investigation in every possible way.”

Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia’s acting director general of transportation, told reporters on Sunday, “no distress signal had been sent. The plane is believed to have gone missing somewhere over the Java Sea between Tanjung Pandan on Belitung island and Pontianak, on Indonesia’s part of Kalimantan island,” Djoko Murjatmodjo said to The Associated Press.

As of early Sunday morning, AirAsia unfortunately has few further details regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but the air carrier officials promise to keep all parties updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE on AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Search and Rescue, via Los Angeles Times report on Sunday, December 28, 2014: “As severe monsoon rains lashed the region, Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean ships and aircraft were focusing the search in the Java Sea off the island of East Belitung, roughly halfway between Singapore and the aircraft’s point of origin, the Indonesian city of Surabaya, Indonesian news media reported.

“God willing, we can find it soon,” 1st Adm. Sigit Setiayana, the naval aviation center commander at the Surabaya air force base, told the Associated Press.

Setiayana said that 12 navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and several warships had joined the effort Monday, according to the Associated Press. The search was halted due to darkness Sunday evening, 12 hours after the plane lost contact with the ground, as teams faced low visibility due to difficult weather conditions.”

UPDATE on AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Search and Rescue on Monday, December 29, 2014: “In the afternoon of Dec 29th 2014, an Air Force Super Puma Helicopter located oil on the sea surface within the search area about 100 nautical miles from Pulau Belitung. Indonesia’s Air Force reported the oil is being tested whether it is aviation fuel,” reports the Aviation Herald.

Indonesia’s search authority on Monday, December 29, said its preliminary assessment was that the plane is “at the bottom of the sea,” though it expanded the search area to include waters farther north and some land over the island of Borneo. Officials said they no detection of any signal from the Airbus A320-200 airliner’s emergency locator transmitters.

Ships and aircraft were deployed from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia to hunt for the plane after it disappeared. More specifically, Indonesia, which is the lead aviation domicile nation in charge of the search, deployed eight ships, two helicopters and three airplanes in the ongoing search, which has focused on a narrow stretch in the Java Sea near Bangka and the island of Belitung east of Sumatra.

“Singapore deployed one C130 aircraft and two Navy ships, while Malaysia sent three vessels and one plane on Sunday. Australia’s government said it offered to send a P-3 Orion search plane to help. South Korea said that it was considering sending a surveillance plane to the region to help with the search,” The Wall Street Journal reports on Monday.

Monday, December 29, 2014, the U.S. Navy reported that upon request by the Indonesian Government the U.S. Navy is joining the search for flight QZ8501. USS Sampson, currently being assigned to another mission in the western Pacific, has been dispatched to the search area and is anticipated to arrive in the Java Sea region by Tuesday, December 30, Aviation Herald reports.

More than 10 hours later on Sunday night, no trace of AirAsia flight QZ8501’s Airbus A320-200 had been found. The search resumed at dawn Monday.

This is why I find the chart below extremely compelling, having historical data and information in which many should examine and take pause to contemplate just how challenging the oceanic searches are for lost Malaysia Airlines MH370 on March 8, 2014, and recently lost AirAsia QZ8501 on Deceember 28, 2014 in relation to the lost Air France flight 447airliner, which was eventually solved.

All total we have lost 80 large airliners since 1948 inside oceanic waters and remote regions of the world, like the South American Amazon, African bush land, and Asiatics. Only three airlines have been found, Uruguayan Air Force flight 571, lost October 13, 1972 and found 72 days later; Eastern Airlines flight 980, lost January 1, 1985 and found in 2006; and Air France flight 447, lost June 1, 2009 and found May 2011.

Disappearances of Large Airliners Since 1948

Photo Credit: Bloomberg Visual Data

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UPDATE on AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Search and Rescue on Tuesday, December 30, 2014:

AirAsia Flight QZ8501’s Airbus A320-200 airliner wreckage and debris and six of the total 162 passenger and AirAsia crew victim’s remains were retrieved from the Java Sea in an area near AirAsia Flight 8510 flight path. Wreckage site is 10 miles from plane’s last-known coordinates. The sea there is 80 feet to 100 feet deep.

“The first proof of the jet’s fate emerged Tuesday in an area not far from where it dropped off radar screens. Searchers found the bodies and debris that included a life jacket, an emergency exit door and a suitcase about 10 miles from the plane’s last known coordinates,” reports Yahoo! News.

It now appears from early morning news from the Southeast Asia region trickling in continuously throughout the day that AirAsia QZ8501’s Airbus A320-200 airliner hit the shallow Java Sea in several pieces, much like Air France AF447’s Airbus A330-200 did hitting the Atlantic Ocean off the cost of Brazil back in 2009.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501’s Airbus A320-200 broke into several smaller pieces as opposed to larger pieces, which is indicative of a break up upon crashing on the water, which is like hitting cement, due to surface tension on oceanic and sea water surfaces.

AirAsia QZ8501 story is quickly unfolding as Air France AF447 Déjà vu.” – Oliver McGee on Fox News “Happening Now” 1pm EST on Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Malaysian-based AirAsia is a low-cost carrier established back in 2001 with just two aircraft, purchased from its Malaysian owner DRB-Hicom. Started in the aftermath of industry changes in international aviation safety and security, resulting from the 9/11 tragedy in the United States, combined with the airline industry liquidity crunch during the global financial crisis, AirAsia has faced down some entrepreneurial turbulent and hyper-competitive challenges in the international commercial passenger airline industry.

AirAsia operates a fleet primarily comprised of Airbus A320 aircraft, representing one of the world’s most technologically advanced, safest and most reliable passenger aircraft. The low-cost carrier’s fleet, operating in Southeast Asia, is one of the youngest in the region, with an average age of just 3.5 years. There are currently over 150 Airbus A320s in service and another 200 orders in placed for next-generation A320s from Airbus.

The Southeast Asia low-cost carrier is regulated by the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation. AirAsia’s unique “no-frills” business approach offers flights throughout Southeast Asia, including Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi as well as over 88 destinations in the region, carrying 220 million flyers since its founding back in 2001.

Notwithstanding, AirAsia’s low-cost strategy in Southeast Asia may soon have a future competitor upon its potential comeback in Malaysia flag carrier Malaysia Airlines, which endured two disasters in 2014. Remarkably, the missing AirAsia Airbus A320 causes many to quickly recall the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 Boeing 777-200ER, which disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014 carrying 227 passengers and 12 Malaysia Airlines crew. Shockingly, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 Malaysia Airlines crew on board.

Embattled Malaysia Airlines appointed on December 11, 2014 Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus Chief, Christoph Mueller, as new CEO to lead the national flag carrier forward through its downsizing restructuring plan of 6,000 job cuts and brand recovery strategy. Mueller takes the helm of the Malaysian flag carrier in mid-2015, Khazanah Nasional, Sovereign wealth fund, taking ownership of the beleaguered airline on December 15, 2014.

However, Malaysian-based AirAsia Indonesia has not lost an airliner in its history. According to Russian news service: “Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia is believed to be one of the safest air carriers in the world. Until today there have been only two incidents with its aircraft. In both cases they overran runways. One took place in November 7, 2004, at Malaysia’s Kota Kinabalu airport (Flight 104, Boeing 737). Another incident with Flight 5218 (Airbus A320-200) occurred in Malaysia’s Kuching on January 10, 2011.”

According to the Wall Street Journal on Monday: Tatang Kurniadi, the chief of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee said “the country’s safety record had improved as its aircraft accident rate dropped to 0.82 per million flights this year from 2.94 per million in 2007.” That compares to a global, five-year average of 0.48 for serious accidents on Western-built jets, according to the International Air Transport Association’s 2013 report.

This despite international air-safety experts caution that soaring expected growth in air travel in the Southeast Asia region over the next 5-10 years could erode broader safety margins, if issues such as human factor errors, global tracking of aircraft, and black-box data streaming, are not quickly and adequately addressed in the region.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a Twitter statement that he was “very sad” about the AirAsia flight.

“My thoughts are with the families,” Razak said. “Malaysia stands ready to help.”

0d9876a - AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Airbus A320 MissingPhoto Credit: AirAsia A320-200, Denpensar International Airport, Bali, Indonesia, by Steve Richardson, Aviation Analyst,

Global Flight Tracking Recommendations Now Essential in Searching for Missing Airliners Over Remote Oceanic Regions

Widely-available now is the 219-page final report by France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA), published in July 2012, “On the accident on 1st June 2009 to the Airbus A330-203, registered F-GZCP, operated by Air France flight AF 447 en route from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Paris, France.”

The extensive report also proposed changes to the way ‘black-boxes’, or flight data recorders, work on aircraft that operate over water. Calls for extending from 30 to 90 days the life of the battery that powers the transponder used to locate ‘black-boxes’ after an airliner crash, has been adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and should surface as commonplace across international aviation by 2018.

Rémi Jouty, head of the BEA, told the Financial Times earlier this year that all the recommendations were made to avoid a repeat of “the difficulties we had in locating AF477 in [the mid-Atlantic] Ocean.” While the tracking technology exists, Jouty pointed to “a need for governments at the international level to reach an agreement.”

Although ICAO had discussed the proposals, he said “one aspect” of its failure to require tracking was lobbying by airlines concerned about cost – a view corroborated by a senior airline executive, Financial Times reports today.

“MH370 is very different from AF447 [and AirAsia QZ8105] ,” says Tony Tyler, director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). “While we knew pretty accurately where AF447 [and AirAsia QZ8105] went down, the issue with MH370 is that it disappeared from tracking capabilities, which included radar surveillance.”

Commercial passenger air travel industry groups released a report on global flight-tracking recommendations and standards on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 with adoption by February 2015.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) held a news conference at its Geneva headquarters Wednesday, announcing the report recommendations on global flight-tracking for its 240 member airlines. IATA’s 240 member airlines encompass 84% of international passenger air traffic.

Early next year, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) plans to convene a high-level safety meeting in Montreal, Canada, to approve a concept of operations for global flight-tracking, and to move forward in developing a global flight-tracking standard by February 2015. Additionally, ICAO plans to publish in 2016 its global flight-tracking standards.


Airbus Media Statement on AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ 8501

Sunday, December 28, 2014 (approximately 3:50 am EST)

Airbus regrets to confirm that an A320-200 operated by AirAsia Indonesia lost contact with air traffic control this morning, 28th December 2014. The aircraft was operating a scheduled service, Flight QZ 8501, from Surabaya to Singapore.

The aircraft involved is MSN (Manufacturer Serial Number) 3648, registered as PK-AXC and was delivered to AirAsia from the production line in October 2008. Powered by CFM 56-5B engines, the aircraft had accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights. At this time no further factual information is available.

In line with the ICAO Annex 13 international convention, Airbus will provide full assistance to the French safety investigation authority, BEA, and to the authorities in charge of the investigation.

The Airbus A320-200 is a twin-engine single-aisle aircraft seating up to 180 passengers in a single-class configuration. The first A320 entered service in March 1988. By the end of November 2014, over 6000 A320 Family aircraft were in service with over 300 operators. To date, the entire fleet has accumulated some 154 million flight hours in some 85 million flights.

Airbus will make further factual information available as soon as the details have been confirmed and cleared by the authorities.

The thoughts of the Airbus management and staff are with all those affected by Flight QZ 8501.”

* * *

Contacts for the media:


Tel.: (33)

also available on Internet:


Portions of this article appears inside the following international news media outlet:

Air Asia missing plane: Sunday December 28 as it happened – Here is how the news of the disappearance of Air Asia flight QZ8501 broke,” The Telegraph (U.K.)


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