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article imageAerial search for missing Indonesia jetliner suspended

By Nathan Salant     Dec 28, 2014 in Travel
Surabaya - Nighttime has forced Indonesia to suspend the search for a missing jetliner that disappeared from radar screens after encountering bad weather on a routine flight to Singapore.
But the aerial search for the AirAsia jet carrying 162 passengers and crew will begin again at dawn, officials with Indonesia's transport ministry said.
The missing plane, AirAsia Flight QZ8501, stopped communicating with air traffic controllers in Jakarta at 6:17 a.m. Sunday, shortly after requesting a course change because of thunderstorms on its planned path from Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, to Singapore.
The Airbus 320-200 did not send any distress signals but was not heard from again, according to the Reuters news service.
"We are using our capacity to search on sea and land," said Tatang Kurniadi, head of Indonesia's National Committee of Safety Transportation, at a news conference.
"Hopefully, we can find the location of the plane as soon as possible," he said.
But Kurniadi said it was too early to begin detecting any electric signals from the plane's automatic flight recorders.
"What I need to emphasize is, until now, we have not found out how the plane fell or what kind of emergency it was," he said.
AirAsia said in a statement that the pilots had been "requesting deviation due to en-route weather before communication with the aircraft was lost," Reuters said.
Singapore, Malaysia, Britain, South Korea and Australia offered to help search for the plane and in any investigation if necessary.
Malaysia said it was sending vessels and a C130 aircraft to aid search efforts and Singapore sent a C130, Reuters said. and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his country would make a P3 Orion aircraft available if needed.
The jet was flying between Tanjung Pandan on Indonesia's Belitung island and Pontianak on Borneo, nearly halfway between Surabaya and Singapore, when it disappeared from radar, Reuters said.
AirAsia is a Malaysia-based budget carrier that began operating 13 years ago and has maintained a clean safety record that includes affiliated air carriers in Thailand, Philippines and India, Reuters said.
AirAsia head Tony Fernandes told Reuters on Sunday that he was heading to Surabaya to see what he could do.
"My only thoughts are with the passengers and my crew," Fernandes said on the messaging website Twitter.
"We put our hope in the SAR (search and rescue) operation and thank the Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysian governments," he said.
AirAsia has replaced its bright red internet logo with a more-solemn one with a gray background, Reuters said.
An official from Indonesia's national search and rescue agency in Medan  North Sumatra points a...
An official from Indonesia's national search and rescue agency in Medan, North Sumatra points at his computer screen to the position where AirAsia flight QZ8501 went missing off the waters of Indonesia on December 28, 2014
Sutanta Aditya, AFP
Director general of civil aviation Djoko Murjatmodjo (C) briefs journalists in Jakarta on December 2...
Director general of civil aviation Djoko Murjatmodjo (C) briefs journalists in Jakarta on December 28, 2014, after AirAsia flight QZ8501 went missing
Bima Sakti, AFP
Passengers queue at the AirAsia check-in counter before departure at Singapore Changi airport termin...
Passengers queue at the AirAsia check-in counter before departure at Singapore Changi airport terminal on December 28, 2014
Roslan Rahman, AFP
An electronic sign board at Singapore International Airport shows information for AirAsia flight QZ8...
An electronic sign board at Singapore International Airport shows information for AirAsia flight QZ8501 on December 28, 2014
Mohd Fyrol, AFP
Map locating the scheduled flight AirAsia QZ8501  which went missing on Sunday morning
Map locating the scheduled flight AirAsia QZ8501, which went missing on Sunday morning
, AFP
Electronic screens shows flight information including AirAsia's QZ8501 (top R)  inside terminal...
Electronic screens shows flight information including AirAsia's QZ8501 (top R), inside terminal 1 at Changi international airport in Singapore on December 28, 2014
Mohd Fyrol, AFP
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