Objects spotted, but not confirmed as Flight 8501



As search crews scoured the Indonesian waters where an AirAsia jet carrying 162 people is believed to have gone down, officials predicted a tragic ending to the region’s latest aviation mystery.

An Indonesian helicopter saw two oily spots in the search area on Monday afternoon, and an Australian search plane spotted objects hundreds of miles away, but it was too early to know whether either was connected to the missing aircraft.

AirAsia Flight 8501 vanished on Sunday morning in airspace thick with storm clouds on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore.

After the search expanded on Monday, Jakarta’s Air Force base commander Rear Marshal Dwi Putranto said an Australian Orion aircraft had detected “suspicious” objects near Nangka island, about 160 kilometres southwest of Pangkalan Bun, near central Kalimantan, 1,120 kilometres from the location where the plane lost contact.

“However, we cannot be sure whether it is part of the missing AirAsia plane,” Putranto said. “We are now moving in that direction, which is in cloudy conditions.”

Air Force spokesman Rear Marshal Hadi Tjahnanto told MetroTV that an Indonesian helicopter in the eastern part of Belitung island spotted two oily spots on the sea about 105 nautical miles east of Tanjung Pandan – much closer to the point of last contact.

He said samples of the oil would be collected and analysed to see if they are connected to the missing plane.

Several naval vessels and helicopters are part of the SAR effort, and I’m somewhat surprised none of them are hearing the black box “ping”. ¬† It seems ridiculous that anyone can track the location of their cell phone almost instantly, but a multi ¬†million dollar aircraft drops under the waves and we’re all deaf dumb and blind.


– AP


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  • conwaycaptain

    As bad as the herald Rear Marshal??? What rank is that???

    • Effluent

      Presumably some sort of arse bandit

    • taurangaruru

      A position in the Labour party if I am not mistaken. Formally occupied by the likes of Jonathan Hunt & Darren Hughes, now currently being filled by Grant Robertson.

  • conwaycaptain

    When sailing in that area the clouds can go from 1000ft above sea level to 35,000 + and the up/down drafts in them are incredible.

    • 1951

      [ warning-girl question ] Having had the thrill of witnessing tropical storm on land in Malaysia (not-to-be-sneezed-at type), do the seas whip-up to the same extent as ours do in a good cyclone?

      • conwaycaptain

        In a Typhoon/Hurricane/Cyclone (same thing) in the middle of nowhere there are HUGE swells and the wind blown seas are high as well. Once you get to Force 9 + the spray/rain is horizontal, you cannot see stuff all and the sea and swell is like nothing you will experience. Remember the sea/swell you get at the coast is affected by the shoaling sea floor and the onshore wind.

        There is a way of avoiding them and this is called the Law of Storms and what you don’t want to do is get into the DANGEROUS QUADRANT and if poss the DANGEROUS Semi Circle.

        I have seen a barograph trace of a ship which passed through the eye of the storm and the drop/rise in pressure is incredible.

        • 1951

          Ok, so if you (pilot) were denied permission to alter course and rise to higher level to avoid running into storm coming from N W of you, I’m guessing you will not take the option to drop to a lower level either, if that’s the case. Poor buggers, damned if you do…….

          • Nic C

            No, if the captain’s not happy with the situation, he has every right to ignore/override the controller’s instructions… and in this case, I’m surprised he didn’t commence an orbit and hold in the area and altitude until the traffic at 34,000ft (as is being reported now) had passed on by… then climb.
            Flying through the middle of a storm system like they get in that part of the world, is one of the few weather events that can put an airliner in serious peril, even rip it apart.
            The weather radars in the A320 aren’t as sophisticated as those in many other modern airliners and it’s possible the crew may have misjudged exactly where they were in relation to the center of the particular storm cell they were trying to skirt around, or may have completely underestimated the strength of it.


  • Monito

    Again its seems so odd for the plane to suddenly and inexplicably lose contact and there is no sign of it not even a pinging from the black box? Surely this is not another vanishing airplane.

    • Nic C

      No, this one appears to be a ‘weather event’…. not another airliner that just upped and disappeared like the first MAL flight.

  • oldmanNZ

    If you lost your cell phone out in a no service area, you would not be able to track it, most cell sites are placed along the motoway, giving you the perception there is coverage almost everywhere in NZ, i took a train from Auckland to Wellington, there were a lot of no service areas.
    The ping from black box also has a limited range, possibly around 2km under water.

    Planes being lost at sea is not uncommon, the Bermuda triangle myth was based on this.

    • caochladh

      Yes, I can understand that, but surely with the great network of satellites and advanced GPS tracking systems there has to be the means to equip aircraft with a device that will locate them in the event of an emergency?

      • LabTested

        From Australia to Dubai Emirates offer in-flight Wi-Fi. The signal drops out for 2-3 hours somewhere between India & Africa, apart from that good coverage.

        • caochladh

          That would be via commercial satellites, but surely the military of any country would share their satellite information for SAR purposes for a missing aircraft.

  • Never in the dark…..

    Has anyone ever thought to build a deployable buoy (with built in transmitter) into the plane design? Something that’s attached to a 1000m 200lb line, locked behind a hatch that would release under x-number of atmospheres.

    So when planes do ditch under water deeper than say 20m, the beacon is deployed and location can be determined somewhat more speedily.

    Hang on, someone has (kind of)……http://www.google.co.in/patents/US3933109

  • david

    It sounds like a repeat of the air france crash
    Apparently the radar showed the plane climbing but slowing. So it probably went into a stall. With air france the indicated speed was lost because of ice and the crew mistook the signs. There were suspected icing issues in this case too.