JAKARTA – Before communication was lost with AirAsia Flight 8501, the aircraft requested to deviate from the planned flight route due to weather.
Flight 8501 “was requesting deviation due to en route weather before communication with the aircraft was lost,” the airline said.
Bad weather was in evidence in the region at the time, International news channel’s meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.
“We still had lines of very heavy thunderstorms” when the plane was flying, Van Dam said. “But keep in mind, turbulence doesn’t necessarily bring down airplanes.”
International news channel’s aviation analyst Mary Schiavo questioned whether weather would have been a factor in what happened to the plane.
“Ordinarily, the pilots would get the updated weather from air traffic control and, of course, their onboard radar,” said Schiavo, a former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation. “So whether there was (bad) weather in the area would not be a mystery.”
AirAsia is a Malaysia-based airline that is popular in the region as a budget carrier. It has about 100 destinations, with affiliate companies in several Asian countries.
The missing plane is operated by AirAsia’s Indonesian affiliate, in which the Malaysian company holds a 48.9% stake, according to its website.
Flight 8501 went missing at 7:24 a.m. Sunday (7:24 p.m. Saturday ET), nearly two hours after takeoff, as it flew over the Java Sea. From flight tracking websites, almost the entire flight path appears to be over the sea.
Flight 8501 is carrying 162 people: 155 passengers, two pilots and five cabin crew members, the airline said in a statement.
156 are Indonesian, three are South Korean, one is Malaysian, one is Singaporean.
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