Will AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Be Found? Unlike MH370, There's A Good Chance It Will Be
It was inevitable that people would draw comparisons between the currently missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 and Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared in March and was unfortunately never recovered. Flight QZ8501, which went missing from radar early Sunday, marks the second Malaysia-based carrier that vanished into thin air in less than a year, but don't expect the case to be another MH370. In this situation, that's a good thing, because the differences between the searches for flight QZ8501 and MH370 suggest that there's a much higher chance of locating the AirAsia plane.
AirAsia flight QZ8501 disappeared from radar at 6:17 a.m. local time on Sunday morning, about two hours after takeoff. The flight, which was carrying 162 people, was on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore. Singapore and Indonesia authorities have launched a search operation to locate the missing plane, and Britain, South Korea, and Australia have also offered to assist in the search. The initial search operation, which scanned the flight path over Indonesia, Borneo, and Southeast Asia, and the mountain regions where the plane disappeared from radar, has been temporarily put on hold due to inclement weather and darkness. Authorities will resume the search early Monday morning local time. Worried relatives have headed to Juanda International Airport in Surabaya to wait for news. While it's understandable that they're feeling incomprehensible dread and concern, especially after what happened with flight MH370 just months ago, family members might find some comfort in knowing the three key differences with flight QZ8501.
The Location Provides an Advantage to the Search Crew
The AirAsia Airbus A320-200 is presumed to be in the relatively shallow waters of the Java Sea, which has a mean depth of just 151 feet. In contrast, flight MH370 was believed to be lost in the Indian Ocean, which is significantly deeper with a mean depth of 12,762 feet. Thus, AirAsia plane's location should make it much easier to find.
The Cause of Contact Loss Seems Pretty Straightforward
Since the pilot of QZ8501 asked to change altitude because of bad weather right before the aircraft disappeared, air traffic control realized right away when it went off radar. Additionally, there doesn't seem to be any mystery as to what caused the loss of contact.
As for MH370, it took air traffic control in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 17 minutes to realized that it had disappeared from radar. The pilots of MH370 had not reported weather or any other concern before losing contact, and it's also believed that the plane continued to fly long after dropping from radar, making it harder to determine what exactly happened to the aircraft.
AirAsia's Fast and Transparent Response Is a Good Sign
The respective responses of AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines are also drastically different. Immediately after AirAsia learned of the missing plane, the airline announced the news and is providing as much information to the public as possible. It's also created a new section on its website dedicated to updates on flight QZ8501.
When flight MH370 went missing, it took Malaysia Airlines a shocking 16 days to offer official condolences to the relatives of the passengers, and by text message, no less. Spokespeople for the airlines and the Malaysian government issued vague and often contradictory statements and accounts, which not only angered family members, but also shook their confidence in their competence to find the aircraft. This prompted conspiracy theories that suggested the airline and government were conspiring together and hiding the truth from the public. Image: Bloomberg Business/Twitter, Getty Images (1)