KUALA LUMPUR: INDONESIA AirAsia Flight QZ8501 was unfortunate to have taken the route it did during rough weather conditions, believed to be the main factor leading to its tragic end.
The Meteorological Department’s Weather Centre’s senior meteorological officer Dr Mohd Hisham Mohd Anip said weather satellite images of the plane’s pathway showed there was an active weather pattern taking place at the time.
“The satellite images support the pilot’s report about the bad weather, as there were thunderstorm clouds known as cumulonimbus clouds.
“Data showed that cumulonimbus clouds were present along the route taken by the illfated plane at roughly the same height as the flight route,” he said, adding that pilots usually avoid areas with such weather patterns.
Hisham said the active formation of clouds was because of the east coast monsoon season, which is being experienced by Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and nearby regions.
“Weather conditions improved today (yesterday) and there was no sign of the thunderstorm clouds.
“We cannot say that the route is dangerous based on this tragedy.
If it was, the Civil Aviation Department would not have allowed the plane to fly the route.” Hisham’s views were echoed by a Malaysia Airlines pilot Captain Alex Yeoh Sze Yeow, who had used the same route before the tragic accident.
He said the route was frequently taken by various airlines.
“I took the same route to Auckland a day before the incident,” he told the New Straits Times.
“It was cloudy when I flew there but it was not a tough route to fly,” he said, adding that the route was frequently used to fly to Bali, Australia and New Zealand.
However, he said the area was known for its bad weather conditions.
“Many media channels reported that there were heavy clouds for days in the area.
“But it is nothing pilots can’t handle.”
TIMELINE DAY 3
3.30am: Ships and planes resume
an extended search for AirAsia flight
QZ8501. The search covers an area the
size of California.
5.08am: Indonesia Vice-President
Jusuf Kalla discounts reports of debris
and an oil slick spotted in the Java Sea.
8.28am: Dozens of planes
and ships searching
waters for missing AirAsia flight
QZ8501 focus on a patch of oil
spotted off Belitung Island, across from
Kalimantan on Borneo island.
9.06am: Smoke is reportedly seen
on an island in the area where AirAsia
flight QZ8501 disappeared from the
10.16pm: The US State
Department confirms it is
sending a destroyer to
the Java Sea to help in the search for
AirAsia Flight QZ8501.
10.28pm: Indonesia’s Search-and-
Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang
Soelistyo says the search area will
be expanded to land areas just after
sunrise near Pangkalan Bun on the
western part of Borneo island and to
smaller islands such as Bangka and
12.03pm: Australia adds an extra
plane (two RAAF P3 Orion planes) in
its contribution to the search for the
1.31pm: Items resembling an
emergency slide and a plane door seen.
2.03pm: More items seen in search
2.30pm: Basarnas spokesman Yusuf
Latif says white, red and black objects,
including what appears to be a life
jacket, are spotted off the coast, about
170 km south of Pangkalan Bun.
3.20pm: Debris is confirmed to be
from missing Indonesia AirAsia Flight
QZ8501 and the Indonesian navy
says authorities are checking to see if
sightings are of bodies or survivors.
3.49pm: Indonesian officials spot
several bodies floating in waters near
where the missing flight was last seen.
A piece of debris is confirmed to be
emergency exit door.
4.12pm: AirAsia’s Group CEO Tony
Fernandes tweets “My heart is filled
with sadness for all the families involved
in QZ8501. On behalf of AirAsia, my
condolences to all. Words cannot
express how sorry I am. Whatever we
can do at AirAsia, we will be doing.”
4.24pm: Basarnas chief Bambang
Soelistyo says an Indonesian air force
Hercules spots a shadow on the seabed
— believed to be the shape of an
5.30pm: Basarnas officials confirm that
more than one body is found in the sea,
while a navy spokesman says teams
have so far recovered one body, plus a
plane door and oxygen tanks.
6.48pm: Some of the presumed debris
from Flight QZ8501 is taken to shore.