Air Asia Tragedy: Multinational Effort for Search and Recovery

By February 5, 2015 Article No Comments

2014 was a dangerous year for aviation. In the last such tragedy of 2014, a plane crash claimed the lives of 162 people, and nations again came together in a multinational effort at search and recovery. Kemplon Engineering takes a closer look at the tragedy, and what countries are contributing to the operations.

Air Asia Flight QZ8501
The downed Airbus was traveling from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore on the 28th of December when it lost contact 40 minutes into the flight. The pilot had requested permission to go to a higher altitude in order to avoid storm clouds, but was not immediately allowed to do so given heavy air traffic. The plane lost contact and disappeared from radar soon afterwards. 162 people were on board—155 passengers and 7 crew.
Bad weather is considered to be the largest contributing factor to the tragedy, and the area is known for winds and thunderstorms.

Also at issue is that Air Asia appears to have violated permissions on route and schedule, as they were not authorized to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on the day of the tragedy. Investigations into this facet of the crash is also underway.

Search and Recovery
Plane wreckage and the intact remains of 30 passengers were recovered about ten miles from the plane’s last coordinates. These recoveries and other signs of wreckage have allowed searchers to narrow down the search area from 13,500 sq. km to about 1,575 square nautical miles. Efforts are still ongoing to recover the remains of more passengers as well as the plane’s black box, which should be able to provide information on what had really caused the crash.

An International Effort
Indonesia is leading recovery efforts through their military and search and rescue agencies. Also involved are agencies from the United States, China, France, Singapore, Australia and South Korea. The US Navy’s USS Sampson arrived on the 30th of December to assist in the search, and USS Fort Worth is in Singapore and ready to assist if requested to do so. Among vessels deployed in the international search effort are about 20 aircraft, 3 warships and remote-operated vehicles, doing visual, radar and sonar surveillance. Naval divers have also been deployed. Unfortunately, bad weather and turbulent seas are complicating their efforts.

We at Kemplon Engineering sympathize with those who have lost family and friends in this tragic event, and we sincerely hope for the safety of the brave men and women in the search and recovery operations, who are working hard to find answers and bring the lost passengers home to their loved ones.

^ “AirAsia flight QZ8501 search team finds four large objects on seabed.” The Guardian, 03 Jan 2015. Web. 07 Jan 2015.
^ “AirAsia QZ8501: ‘Big objects’ found in fuselage search.”, 03 Jan 2015. Web. 07 Jan 2015.
^ Campbell, Charlie. “Bad Weather Is Hampering the Recovery of AirAsia Bodies.”, 02 Jan 2015. Web. 07 Jan 2015.
^ “Flight QZ8501: What we know about the AirAsia plane crash.”, 04 Jan 2015. Web. 07 Jan 2015.
^ Laursen, Wendy. “Multi-National Team in AirAsia Black Box Search.” Maritime Executive, 02 Jan 2015. Web. 07 Jan 2015.
^ “U.S. Navy Contributes to AirAsia Search Efforts.” Maritime Executive, 31 Dec 2014. Web. 07 Jan 2015.
^ Image: Screen capture. BBC. “AirAsia QZ8501: ‘Big objects’ found in fuselage search.”, 03 Jan 2015. Web. 07 Jan 2015.