http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/airasia-denied-altitude-change-before-it-was-lost-debris-spotted/article/422140

AirAsia denied altitude change before it was lost; debris spotted

Posted Dec 29, 2014 by Marcus Hondro
Minutes before disappearing off the radar screen, one of the two pilots flying AirAsia Flight QZ8501 requested that they raise its altitude but was told they could not. The plane disappeared off the radar screen within five minutes of making the request.
MISSING: An Airasia Airbus 320 jetliner is seen taxiing at Singapore Changi International Airport in...
MISSING: An Airasia Airbus 320 jetliner is seen taxiing at Singapore Changi International Airport in 2010.
Aldo Bidini/Wikimedia Commons
Request to raise altitude
The request to raise its altitude from 32,000 feet (9,754 metres) to 38,000 feet (11,582) was an effort to avoid severe weather in the form of threatening storm clouds that were giving the plane a rough ride. But six other commercial flights were in the airspace above it so it was not permitted to change elevation, Indonesian officials said.
It was, however, given permission to alter its flight path but the pilot was told they would have to wait until it would be safe to raise its altitude. At the time of the request the plane had been in the air over 40 minutes and was close to half way through its flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore.
At no time did the jet issue a distress signal.
Flight 8501 likely crashed into sea
Meanwhile, an Australian Air Force plane that joined in the search, an AP-3C Orion that carries highly-sophisticated search equipment, was the first to spot what may be debris from the plane in the Java Sea.
Two oil slicks have also been spotted, in separate locations, and ships are being directed to the areas to ascertain if the discoveries are connected to the missing Airbus A320-200.
In addition to the Australian air force plane, Indonesia has 12 navy ships taking part in the search efforts, five planes and three helicopters. There are also both ships and planes from Malaysia and Singapore and a ship from Thailand is set to join the search.
While officials said they will search land on islands near where the plane was last known to be, they hold out little hope that the plane, and its 162 passengers, is anywhere but the bottom of the sea.