AirAsia’s mysterious disappearing airbus bears the onus of being the third ill-fated flight in the region of Malaysia in 2014 and the second to mysteriously disappear, so far without a trace, sparking comparisons to Malaysian Airlines (MA) MH370. The latter flight, which went missing last March, still has never been found. Experts point out some similarities between the flights, however, the differences leave officials scratching their heads with more questions than answers as the search for the downed plane resumed early Monday morning, local time.
AirAsia’s vanishing act follows on MA Flight 370, which disappeared, last March 8, carrying 239 passengers en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China. While flying several hundred miles north of Singapore between Vietnam and Malaysia, air traffic control lost communication with the plane with no reports of inclement weather, foul play or mechanical difficulties. Search efforts have been complicated by the fact that after losing radio contact, the plane inexplicably deviated south of its flight path in the direction of the Indian Ocean with its transponder turned off. The search area was obscured due to the loss of communication and radar signals sparking a plethora of questions as to what transpired aboard the plane. A 17-minute delay in air traffic controllers in Vietnam and Malaysia realizing the plane had disappeared gave searchers little help in where to look. As a result, the fate of plane and all its passengers remain a mystery to this day.
On the other hand, officials have stated that there is a greater probability of finding the AirAsia Flight sparking hope for the families of the 162 passengers aboard, including 17 children. The airbus mysteriously disappeared from radar at 6:17 a.m., local time, while flying from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore with 162 passenger aboard, including 17 children. A cursory comparison of the two disappearances reveals some superficial resemblance to the earlier incident in that neither plane signaled any kind of distress or emergency call and both occurred on carriers based in Malaysia. However, the AirAsia pilot did request permission to change altitude due to inclement weather conditions shortly before vanishing. Another important difference could be the water depth at the presumed location of the planes. While MH370 was last seen over the deep Indian Ocean, QZ8501 last known location was over the shallow Java Sea, a well-known area and much easier to search, although the Indonesian search team has yet to turn up the plane after the first day of searching.
While the search effort continues on the Australian coast for the mysterious MH370, the search for AirAsia disappearing airbus resumed Monday morning, Malaysian time. Although comparisons are few, aviation experts are curious to find answers to why there was no indication of distress. Peter Stuart Smith, an aviation specialist said a distress call in case of emergency is just a matter of pushing one button or a few seconds to squawk the emergency code. The fact that neither happened, leaves many questions about the sudden onset of a severe enough problem to bring the plane down. Many speculate that the aircraft lies at the bottom of the sea. Although rough weather is common in the area in December, Mr. Smith explains that once a plane is at altitude, it is virtually unheard of for turbulence to bring it down. The addition of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 to the conundrum of the disappearing and downed planes only adds sparks to the mystery of why the Malaysian flights seem to be having such a troublesome year, a question on which only the discovery of the remains of one or both planes seems likely to shed any light.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser