The pilot of the missing Air Asia aircraft with 162 people on board on Sunday morning requested a deviation due to weather before losing contact with the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC), according to a statement of the Malaysia-based budget carrier which has just been posted on its official Facebook’s page.
The airplane was on the normal flight path before the pilot asked to deviate due to the weather, according to the statement posted at //www.facebook.com/notes/airasia.
Then, “the communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC),” said the statement.
The aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November 2014.
Also according to the statement, the aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours.
There were 155 passengers on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and 1 infant. If two pilots and 5 cabin crew, comprising of four flight attendants and one engineer, on board are included , there are 162 people that have gone missing with the aircraft.
There are one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one French, and three South Koreans, and 156 Indonesians on board.
Joko Muryo Atmodjo, air transportation director at the Transport Ministry, told a news conference on Sunday that the plane had been flying at 32,000 feet and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds, according to Singaporean newswire Straitstimes.com.
He said the aircraft was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan on Borneo island, when it went missing, Straitstimes.com reported.
Vietnam ready to assist
Vietnam’s Air Force is ready to search for the aircraft of Malaysian budget airline Air Aisia which has just been reported missing if there are signs that the air plane has entered Vietnam’s Flight Information Region (FIR), said a senior official from the army.
“This is both a responsibility and a humane act,” Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, Deputy Chief of General Staff, Vietnam People’s Army, toldTuoi Tre.
Though the exact location of the missing aircraft has yet been identified, the spirit of the army was ready to join the search and rescue operations, if necessary,” Tuan added.
According to Lieutenant General Tuan, the capability and experience of Vietnamese Air Force in support of the search operation for air plane MH370 in early March this year was appreciated internationally.
“As a result, we certainly will not stay on the sidelines this time if the plane crashed in the FIR we managed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Colonel Nguyen Thai Son, Deputy Director of Political of Brigade 918 under the Vietnam’s Air Force, told Tuoi Tre the planes of the division are in a state of readiness.
The planes will take off and join the search and rescue operations if an order from the Ministry of Defense and the Air Force is dispatched, said Colonel Son, deputy head of the unit managing AN26 aircraft participating in the search of MH370.
Talking to Vn Express on Sunday morning, Lai Xuan Thanh, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said CAAV has yet to receive any requests for assistance from its Indonesian and Singaporean counterparts relating to the missing Airbus A320, coded QZ 8501, of budget carrier AirAsia.
In principle, the air route linking Indonesia to Singapore does not cut through the Ho Chi Minh City’s FIR controlled by Vietnam, he said.