News reports indicate searchers spotted wreckage at around 12:40 local time (0740 UTC) and began recovering passenger bodies from an area of the Java Sea with 3-meter waves. One aircraft door has been found, but the main fuselage and other aircraft components have not yet been located. The debris location is consistent with the known flight route, reportedly in waters 30-meters deep, roughly 100-miles southwest of the Borneo coastline.Based on the flightplan revealed early by Indonesian authorities, it appears the flight was heading northwest along route M635 (the route marked in blue, see below) at FL320 (32,000 feet). The flight disappeared close to the time that it passed the intersection TAVIP, which defines the boundary between the Ujung Pandang controlled airspace and the Jakarta controlled airspace (note the verticle blue line with the ticks on either side; this defines FIR boundaries).
The original filed flightplan called for an initial cruise altitude of FL320, with a later climb to FL380. It appears this is a standard climb profile, related to the fact the flight crosses a route (W15) heading southwest to Jakarta. A reconstruction of other air traffic (posted at FlightRadar24) indicates QZ8501 needed to be northwest of the crossing route before the last climb could be approved. And this is exactly what reportedly happened; i.e., the QZ8501 crew had given ATC their climb request and, two minutes later, they were given a climb clearance to FL340 … though at this point in time there was no response, likely because the clearance was issued just after the upset.
This accident, following the disappearance of MH370 in early March 2014, has intensified the call for mandatory satellite-based flight tracking along non-radar flight routes.
- AirAsia plane found in Java Sea: latest – Telegraph.co.UK
- AirAsia update: debris from flight confirmed; airline was implementing real-time tracking – Leehamnews
- Hurdle in Hunt for Missing Jet: Tracking System – NY Times
- Bodies, debris from missing AirAsia plane pulled from sea off Indonesia – Reuters
- Bodies and Debris From Missing AirAsia Flight Found in Indonesian Waters – Slate.com
- Indonesia Says Debris Found Is From Missing Plane – Bloomberg
- Supply, Demand, and Aviation Disaster in Asia – TheAtlantic.com