AirAsia Flight Missing
Authorities monitor progress in the search for AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in the Mission Control Center inside the National Search and Rescue Agency in Jakarta.Reuters

Icing in the clouds led to the damage of plane engines of the AirAsia QZ8501 flight, which ultimately crashed on Sunday, the Indonesian Agency for Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics has said, in what is the first official statement after the accident.

The agency released a 14-page report on the 'meteorological analysis', and cited icing in the clouds due to peak temperatures of -80 to -85 degree Celsius as the most probable cause behind the crash.

"The most probable weather phenomenon is that icing caused the plane engines to be damaged," the report said.

However, the agency said this was only an analysis and not a final confirmation of the cause of the crash.

Bad weather has been assumed to be the main reason for the crash, as the pilot had requested a route change to avoid clouds minutes before the plane disappeared off radars.

The agency also said that weather charts had shown "worrying conditions" even before the plane took off, and had warnings of a gale.

The report came on the same day when Indonesia's Transport Ministry suspended AirAsia operations on the route between Surabaya and Singapore on Friday for flying on an unauthorised schedule on 28 December, when its plane crashed.

AirAsia reportedly violated rules regarding operational hours, and flew on Sunday despite having permission to fly on the route only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The airliner's permit to ply planes on the route will remain frozen till further investigation, officials have said.