Storms to Persist in Search Zone for AirAsia Plane

By By Mark Leberfinger, Staff Writer
December 30, 2014, 5:07:45 AM EST

An AirAsia Indonesia flight from Surabaya to Singapore went missing on Sunday, local time, and a massive multi-nation search is ongoing.

On Tuesday, AirAsia officials confirmed that debris floating in the Karimata Strait belonged to flight QZ8501.

Thunderstorms could continue to hamper the remaining recovery and search efforts.


While debris from Flight QZ8501 has been found, another AirAsia flight skidded off a runway in the Philippines.

AirAsia flight Z2 272 overshot a runway at Kalibo International Airport at 5:43 p.m. local time, according to GMA News Online (from the Philippines).

Weather observations from Kalibo were not available, but Roxas Airport located 26 miles to the east indicated distant rain at the time of the incident, according to Meteorologist Adam Douty.

Rain was moving through the central Philippines as once-Tropical Storm Jangmi (known locally as Seniang) was tracking to the southwest.

GMA News Online reports that all 153 passengers and crew disembarked from the plane safely with no injuries.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with Flight QZ8501 at 7:24 a.m. Sunday after takeoff from the Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, the airline said on its Facebook page.

The aircraft was on its submitted flight plan route and the pilot asked for permission from air controllers to fly at a higher altitude due to weather, cited Indonesian officials as saying.

It had been flying at an altitude of 9,753 meters (32,000 feet). The pilot asked to climb to 11,582 meters (38,000 feet).

Air controllers refused the request to go to a higher altitude because of another plane at that altitude but did allow a turn to the left, an Indonesia government official told Kompas, an Indonesia newspaper.

There were thunderstorms along the flight path, Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.

"It's very active this time of year. December and January are the wettest times of the year in Indonesia," Samuhel said.

The storms in the area were capable of producing severe turbulence, strong wind shear, frequent lightning and icing, Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

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Wind shear is a rapid change in wind direction and speed over a short distance.

"It is for these reasons that pilots may request permission to deviate from their flightpath by going around or above the weather," Sosnowski said.


Search and rescue crews from Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia were searching for the aircraft on Monday after the search was suspended late Sunday due to darkness and more thunderstorms in the region.

The effort to figure out what happened will be hampered by more thunderstorms over the next few days.

Indonesia accepted Singapore’s offer of two teams of specialists and two sets of underwater locator beacon detectors to assist in locating the flight data recorders of the missing aircraft, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said on its Facebook page.

Thunderstorms will continue to be scattered across the original flight path through the middle of the week, Sosnowski said.


The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with 162 people on board, AirAsia said in a statement.

The aircraft was delivered to AirAsia from the production line in October 2008, Airbus said in a statement. It had about 23,000 flight hours in nearly 13,600 flights.


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