Four large objects are discovered in the Java Sea as Indonesia starts an investigation into the AirAsia airline over a possible violation of its licence.
Authorities in Jakarta said Indonesia AirAsia had violated the terms of its licence for the Surabaya to Singapore route by flying on a Sunday – the day flight QZ8501 plunged into the sea with 162 passengers on board.
No survivors have been found, and 30 bodies have been recovered from the site of the crash.
Officials said Indonesia would investigate the schedules of other aircraft operated by AirAsia, as the search continues for the aircraft’s “black box” recorder, which should help determine the cause of the crash.
Four large objects have been discovered under the Java Sea, and remote underwater vehicles are being used to try to capture images to confirm whether they are parts of the lost aircraft.
A multi-national task force of ships, planes and helicopters have been scouring the Java Sea and coastline of southern Borneo to recover bodies and help locate the black box.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft minutes after its pilot requested to fly higher to try and avoid a storm.
Indonesian authorities have questioned whether the pilot followed proper weather report procedures, and later suspended Indonesia AirAsia’s Surabaya to Singapore flights for apparently infringing the terms of its licence for the route.
Sunu Widyatmoko, the head of Indonesia AirAsia, told reporters the airline – which is 49-per cent owned by Malaysia-based AirAsia – would cooperate with the inquiry.
Small pieces of the aircraft and other debris have been found, but there has been no sign of the crucial voice and flight data recorders.
Operating underwater search vehicles is likely to be problematic due to the large waves in the area that have hampered operations for much of the week.
Hadi Mustofa Djuraid, a transport ministry official, has said authorities are also investigating the possibility that the pilot did not ask for a weather report from the meteorological agency at the time of take-off.
The terms of Indonesia AirAsia’s licence for the Surabaya-Singapore route permitted flights on four days of the week but not Sundays.
On board the flight were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain. The co-pilot was French.