Jakarta/Singapore | Two large metal objects belonging to the doomed AirAsia jet have been found in the Java Sea, Indonesian officials said today, 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 yesterday, 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 yesterday, a piece was found that appeared to belong to a plane’s fuselage — its main body, Singapore officials said. Meanwhile, Indonesia’s transport ministry said last 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. He added that AirAsia’s permit for the route has been frozen until investigations are completed. 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 were required to do so before flying, media reports said.
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