On Sunday, December 28, 2014, a commercial AirAsia jet disappeared in the Indonesian airspace with a total of 162 people on board. As of yesterday, December 30, 2014, the media reported that 40 bodies have been recovered. Additionally, debris of the aircraft has been found in the Karimata Strait between Sumatra, Java and Borneo. Air traffic controllers for AirAsia lost contact with the aircraft at 6:24 a.m. on Sunday (Indonesia time). The plane was flying from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore when it went missing as it flew over the Java Sea, between the islands of Belitung and Borneo. The jet vanished from radar screens on Sunday morning approximately 40 minutes into a 2 hour flight. The company reported that on board the Airbus A320-200, Flight QZ8501, were 155 Indonesians, 3 South Koreans, 1 British, 1 French, 1 Malaysian, and 1 Singaporean. Among the passengers were 18 children, including 1 infant, and 7 crew members.
There are numerous questions over the pilot’s communications. AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes confirmed during a news conference that storm clouds caused the pilot to ask for a change in flight plan. The pilot had requested permission to fly the plane at a higher altitude due to bad weather. Why did the air traffic control fail to provide an alternative route? It was reported that the air traffic control approved the pilot’s request to turn left but denied permission for the plane to climb to 38,000 feet from 32,000 feet. Mr. Fernandes has called the crash “an airline CEO’s worst nightmare.”
However, as of now, the company does not want to speculate whether weather was a factor. Once the entire aircraft is found, a proper investigation will be conducted. Currently, search and rescue efforts are still in progress, and the debris is being investigated. On Monday, December 29, 2014, Indonesia asked the U.S. for help as the search expands for the crashed AirAsia jet; several countries have joined the search. Unfortunately, in a recent news conference, Henry Bambang Soelistyo, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Chief stated, “Based on the coordinates that we know, the evaluation would be that any estimated crash position is in the sea, and that the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea.”
Officials have commented that there was no distress call from the cockpit. Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation, stated that if there was an onboard emergency during the flight, the pilots should have issued a mayday call or a pan-pan call. “Mayday means you’re immediately in danger of losing the flight; pan-pan means that it is urgent but that you can continue the flight and request an alternate route or an alternate airport…It’s disconcerting in that the standard procedures for an emergency don’t seem to have been deployed,” she said.
As investigations are underway, our law firm is concerned for the relatives and the next of kin of the passengers on board the crashed AirAsia jet. Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at 713-396-3964.