Australia Is Sending An RAAF Orion Search Plane To Help Find Missing AirAsia Flight

Relatives of missing AirAsia passengers at the crisis centre of Juanda International Airport Surabaya in Indonesia. Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

The search for AirAsia flight QZ8501, which went missing with 162 people aboard on the way to Singapore from Indonesia on Sunday, continues with Australia joining the search.

A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft took off from Darwin this morning to join the search. Singapore today added two navy ships to the two air force C-130 aircraft it has searching for the missing aircraft.

Singapore navy joins the search. RSN servicemen embarking the Formidable-class frigate RSS Supreme. Image: Supplied.

The Formidable-class frigate, RSS Supreme, and Missile corvette, RSS Valour, left early today.

The search was halted after 11 hours yesterday and resumed at first light today.

Most aboard the AirAsia flight are Indonesians. There are also three South Koreans and one each from Singapore, Malaysia, Britain and France. The Frenchman is the co-pilot.

Tony Fernandez CEO of AirAsia talks at Djuanda International airport. Oscar Siagian/Getty Images

The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC.

Sunu Widyatmoko, CEO of AirAsia Indonesia said he was “deeply shocked and saddened by this incident” adding that the company’s main priority was keeping the families of passengers and colleagues about the latest developments.

“We will do everything possible to support them as the investigation continues and have already mobilized a support team to help take care of their immediate needs, including accommodation and travel arrangements. A briefing center has also been set up in Surabaya for the families,” he said.

For the families in Singapore, there is also an emergency briefing room at Changi International Airport Terminal Two.

The aircraft was due to land in Singapore at 08.30 local time Sunday, but contact was lost at 7.24am.

The pilot had asked permission to ascend by 6,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid heavy clouds. This wasn’t approved by air traffic controllers, because there was another flight nearby.

The plane disappeared from radar a few minutes later.

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