AirAsia flight went missing near Indonesian airspace.
AirAsia flight went missing near Indonesian airspace.Route map of QZ8501 via Jason Rabinowitz on FlightRadar24

Online forums have been abuzz with people concerned about the missing AirAsia plane wondering how is it possible that in an era where one can track a stolen iPod with a click of a button, finding an aircraft seems to be an almost impossible.

The AirAsia flight QZ8501 went missing on Sunday even as the memories of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared with all its 239 passengers remains fresh in the minds of people across the world.

Why does it take so long to find a missing plane?

In an analysis on Daily Dot, journalist S.E. Smith notes that delay in the search is because of the "outdated technology we use to track aircraft..."

Planes are tracked via radar, an old but still highly effective method of keeping track of large objects in the sky, but it has some flaws, even with the use of a combination of both primary and secondary radar systems.

Similarly, Smith noted, that even the "black boxes" (which are actually bright orange in colour) have their limitations as they use ultrasound, they can only be picked up in limited depths. So if a plane goes down in deep water, the black boxes are virtually impossible to locate.

Things to know about AirAsia flight QZ8501

  • What happened to QZ8501?

The AirAsia flight QZ8501 was travelling from Indonesia to Singapore, when the air traffic control lost contact with the plane carrying 162 people. The pilot's last contact with ground control was a request to divert around due the bad weather.

Indonesian officials say air traffic control approved one request, to veer left, and then gave clearance to a second request for a permission to climb but by then all contact was lost with the plane. The Airbus A320-200 was due to arrive in Singapore at 8:30am on 28 December but has been presumed lost over the Java Sea.

  • Who were on board?

As per the details released by AirAsia, there were 162 people on board including 12 children and one toddler. There are 155 passengers and seven crew members. Of the passengers, one is Singaporean, one Malaysian, three are South Korean, one is British and 149 Indonesian. The co-pilot is a French national.

  • Why was there no distress signal from the missing plane?

An electrical failure in the aircraft may have affected the communications.

  • Has the AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed? Are there any chances of anyone surviving the crash?

The AirAsia flight QZ8501, which is an Airbus A320-200, was cruising an altitude of more than 36,000 feet when it lost contact with the ground control. The search agencies are now looking for the debris of the crashed plane.

Considering the altitude that the aircraft was at, a crash would have been of a very high impact and the chances of anyone surviving the crash is virtually nil.

  •  Will AirAsia flight QZ8501 be ever found? 

There are already reports emerging that the debris and bodies from AirAsia may have been found near the Java sea.

When compared to the still missing MH370, the one advantage that will help in locating the AirAsia flight QZ8501 is that the Java Sea is fairly shallow with an average depth of about 40m. 

  • Should people stop flying airlines from this region ?

Despite the tragedies involving Malaysian airlines and now the AirAsia, the region has constantly been improving its safety standards. AirAsia was recently named the world's best low-cost carrier at the World Travel Awards, besides AirAsia has had an excellent safety record.