SINGAPORE, Dec 29 – The search and locate (SAL) operation will resume Tuesday for a missing AirAsia Indonesia aircraft as the operation Monday was halted at nightfall. Despite a report that the missing aircraft is likely to be at the bottom of the sea, the multi-nation SAL operation led by Indonesia, along with Singapore and Malaysia, has yet to determine the actual location of the aircraft.
Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200 carrying 162 people, had taken off at 5.20 am from Surabaya, Indonesia, on Sunday, and was scheduled to land at Singapore’s Changi Airport at 8.30 am the same day. It last contacted the Air Traffic Control at 6.12 am Indonesian time (7.12 am Malaysian time).
Earlier today, Indonesia accepted Singapore’s offer of two teams of specialists and two sets of underwater locator beacon detectors from the Singapore Ministry of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) to assist in locating the flight data recorders of the missing aircraft.
This afternoon, Singapore also offered additional equipment and personnel from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to support the AAIB operation, including a sidescan sonar system and a robotic remotely-operated vehicle. The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) deployed two C-130 aircraft for the SAL operation Monday, with the first taking off at around 6.30 am and the second, around noon.
In a joint statement, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said the RSAF planned to fly two sorties Tuesday. The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Formidable-class frigate (RSS Supreme) and Missile corvette (RSS Valour) have arrived at the search area and joined the SAL operation.
A Landing ship tank (RSS Persistence) also sailed off Monday evening to join in the effort. The Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency, BASARNAS, has also accepted the Singapore Armed Forces’ offer of a Submarine support and rescue vessel (MV Swift Rescue). It is ready to set sail.
As search for the missing aircraft continued, Singapore provided support and assistance to the next-of-kin of the passengers. This included regular briefings by representatives of AirAsia, Changi Airport Group (CAG) and Singapore’s Ministry of Transport. The next-of-kin were assisted by counsellors and care officers from the Ministry of Social and Family Development and CAG as well as staff from AirAsia and airport partners.
While some relatives opted to remain at home or in their hotels, the care officers continued to provide them with updates and assistance. AirAsia arranged for 16 relatives to fly to Indonesia Sunday night, and another 11 Monday.