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‘Two large objects found’ from AirAsia crash

‘Two large objects found’ from AirAsia crash
Two large metal objects belonging to the doomed AirAsia jet have been found in the Java Sea, Indonesian officials said on Saturday, as it emerged that the plane carrying 162 people was flying on an unauthorised schedule when it crashed.

Two objects have been spotted which are about 30 metres under water and located near an oil slick spotted on Friday, Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency Basarnas, said.

The objects were found at the bottom of the sea near Pangkalan Bun. One of the objects was measured at 9.4 metres by 4.8 metres and a half-metre high. The other, found nearby, was 7.2 metres by a half metre.

“With the discovery of an oil spill and two big parts of the aircraft, I can assure you these are the parts of the AirAsia plane we have been looking for,” Soelistyo said.

“We are lowering a ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) underwater to get an actual picture of the objects detected on the sea floor. All are at the depth of 30m,” he said, adding that a strong current was making it difficult to operate the underwater vehicle.

Three vessels sent out to a sea area, where the oil slick was spotted, located the “two objects...that are close to each other,” said Soelistyo.

Till now 30 bodies have been retrieved from the Java Sea.

However, continuing bad weather has held back efforts to hunt for the plane’s data recorders.

Soelistyo told reporters that the two objects represent the main part of the Airbus A320 that lost contact with air-traffic control on Sunday morning with 162 people on board.

A piece of debris resembling a window panel has also been found, Singapore’s Defense Ministry said. Also on Friday, a piece was found that appeared to belong to a plane’s fuselage, Singapore officials said.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s transport ministry said on Friday night that the AirAsia plane was travelling at a flight time that had not been cleared by officials. It was not permitted to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on Sundays.

“It violated the route permit given, the schedule given, that’s the problem,” director-general of air transport Djoko Murjatmodjo said. AirAsia Indonesia is only allowed to ply that route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but had done so on Sundays as well.

Authorities are also investigating the possibility that the pilot, Captain Irianto, did not ask for a weather report from the meteorological agency at the time of takeoff. Pilots are required to do so before flying, media reports said.

Russian team optimistic of finding AirAsia black boxes

A senior Russian official said here on Saturday that the equipment and personnel it has deployed in search of the wreckage and black boxes of the crashed AirAsia jetliner would be “very much” capable of carrying out the mission.

“The plane can detect even the small icons of wreckage in water and the bottom of the sea. We are quite optimistic regarding the goal of our mission,” Xinhua quoted Alexander Shilin, Russian deputy chief of mission, as saying at a press conference after the landing of a Beriev Be-200 plane at an air base in Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan province.

He added the divers and experts taking part in the search operation had excellent and vast experience in search missions.

The Russia mission included 22 divers and 17 search experts, Shilin said, adding the Be-200 amphibious plane also brought a remotely-operated submersible vehicle that could operate in a maximum depth of 300 meters.

“The submersible is equipped with special sonar and acoustic system that can detect beacon of the black boxes,” he said.

“Finding the black boxes is our main goal here. We will provide as much help as we can.”

Russia joined an Indonesia-led search operation for the crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501 by sending two planes, the Be-200 amphibious and an Ilyushin Il-76, on Thursday.

On the seventh day after the crash in the Java Sea on Sunday, the search operation is now focused on locating the black boxes of the Airbus A320-200.

AirAsia’s Singapore flight suspended
After it was found that the AirAsia plane that crashed in the Java Sea was flying on an unauthorised schedule, Indonesian Transport Ministry has suspended the airline’s Surabaya-Singapore route for violating the operational hours.

“As of January 2, 2015, the licence of Surabaya-Singapore (return) route to Indonesia AirAsia is temporarily frozen until after there is a result of evaluation and investigation,” Indonesia’s Transport Ministry spokesman, Julius Adravida Barata, said.

“This is a temporary suspension,” said the ministry’s public communications head JA Batara in a statement, adding that the ban may be reconsidered upon completion of the investigation.

Passengers who have already purchased tickets for the Surabaya-Singapore route have been advised to change their flight schedules.

Meanwhile, Air Asia Indonesia’s safety and security director Captain Ahmad Sadikin said on Friday that he was not yet aware of the suspension and reiterated that the airline had never operated a route without a permit.

“But if we do not have permission, then definitely we will not fly,” Sadikin was quoted as saying.



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