AirAsia QZ8501: Recovery mission resumes

JANUARY 6, 2015

The mission to find and recover the flight data recorders from the crashed AirAsia Flight QZ8501 resumed on Tuesday, as weather conditions improve over the Java Sea. Flight QZ8501 disappeared from radar while flying from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore with 162 people on-board on 28 December.

Officials have said the plane was travelling at 32,000ft when the pilot's last communication was a request to climb to 38,000ft to avoid bad weather.

A search effort for the doomed passenger jet has so far yielded 37 bodies and debris. It is believed that the remains of most of the victims are still in the plane. There were 137 adult passengers, 17 children and one infant, along with two pilots and five crew on-board that fateful day.

There is also an effort to locate Flight QZ8501’s black box recorders which could reveal what happened to the plane moments before it crashed.

Bad weather

Bad weather in the Java Sea has hampered any attempts to reach large objects thought to be the body of the plane.

While sonar equipment had been deployed underwater, but that the weather meant no divers were yet back in the water.

While the weather conditions have improved from last week, the currents underwater were still strong.

A chance to lay wreaths

Families of the victims, mostly Indonesian, have been offered a chance to fly to the location believed to be Flight QZ8501’s crash site and lay flower wreaths, Commander of the Armed Forces, Gen Moeldoko, said in Surabaya.

They would fly to Pangkalan Bun, the nearest town, then be taken by a naval ship to the location in the Java Sea.

He said he believed this might help "reduce their sadness and the feeling of loss".

Gen Moeldoko also said that 260 national and international doctors were working to identify the remains recovered using finger prints, dental records and bone DNA. He said all the victims would be identified regardless of their condition when found.

Search area

Divers from Indonesia and Russia have been deployed to the search area, which has been enlarged to allow for tides sweeping bodies and debris further afield.

Due to poor visibility on the sea bed, remotely operated cameras were being used to try to photograph objects believed to be from the doomed plane, but waves up to 5m high and strong currents made their use difficult.

License dispute

It has emerged that AirAsia did not have official permission from Indonesia to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on the day of the crash, but was licensed on four other days of the week.

However, a statement from the civil aviation authority in Singapore said that AirAsia did have permission from them to operate the flight daily.

The Indonesian authorities have now suspended the company's flights on this route pending an investigation.

AirAsia previously had an excellent safety record with no fatal accidents involving its aircraft.

Read more: AIRASIA QZ8501: DIVERS STRUGGLE TO LOCATE BLACK BOXES