AirAsia Flight QZ8501 to give $100,000 compensation to kin of dead; tail found, black box may be nearby

By: | Updated: January 7, 2015 9:09 PM

Indonesian search and rescue teams hunting for the wreck of an AirAsia passenger jet have located the tail...

airasia flight missing, airasia flights, AirAsia found, airasia, airasia flight QZ8501, air qz8501, air asia missingWhat is believed to be wreckage from crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501 in the Java Sea is pictured in this underwater photograph released by Indonesia?s National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) January 7, 2015. The tail of a crashed AirAsia jet has been found on the sea bed about 30 km (20 miles) from the plane?s last known location, Indonesia?s search and rescue agency said on Wednesday, a breakthrough that investigators hope will lead to the crucial black box recorders. Flight QZ8501 vanished from radar screens over the northern Java Sea on Dec. 28, less than half-way into a two-hour flight from Indonesia?s second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors among the 162 people on board. REUTERS

The tail of a crashed AirAsia jet has been found upturned on the sea bed about 30 km (20 miles) from the plane’s last known location, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said on Wednesday, indicating the crucial black box recorders may be nearby.

Flight QZ8501 vanished from radar screens over the northern Java Sea on Dec. 28, less than half-way into a two-hour flight from Indonesia’s second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors among the 162 people on board.

“We’ve found the tail that has been our main target,” Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of the search and rescue agency, told a news conference in Jakarta.

airasia flight missing, airasia flights, AirAsia found, airasia, airasia flight QZ8501, air qz8501, air asia missingThe wreckage from the crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501 in the Java Sea is pictured in this underwater photograph released by Indonesia?s National Search And Rescue Agency. (Reuters)

The carrier, meanwhile, said families of those killed would be compensated in accordance with Indonesian laws.

Each will receive $100,000 (1.25 billion rupiah), Sunu Widyatmoko, president of AirAsia Indonesia, told reporters in Surabaya.

In this underwater photo released by Indonesia's National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, the part of the wreckage that BASARNAS identified as of the ill-fated AirAsia Flight QZ8501 is seen in the waters of the Java Sea, Indonesia. Divers and an unmanned underwater vehicle spotted the tail of the missing AirAsia plane in the Java Sea on Wednesday, the first confirmed sighting of any major wreckage 11 days after Flight 8501 disappeared with the passengers and crew members on board. (AP)In this underwater photo released by Indonesia?s National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, the part of the wreckage that BASARNAS identified as of the ill-fated AirAsia Flight QZ8501 is seen in the waters of the Java Sea, Indonesia. Divers and an unmanned underwater vehicle spotted the tail of the missing AirAsia plane in the Java Sea on Wednesday, the first confirmed sighting of any major wreckage 11 days after Flight 8501 disappeared with the passengers and crew members on board. (AP)

The tail was identified by divers after it was spotted by an underwater machine using a sonar scan, Soelistyo said. He  displayed underwater photographs showing partial lettering on the sunken object compared with a picture of an intact Airbus A320-200 in AirAsia livery.

“I can confirm that what we found was the tail part from the pictures,” he said, adding that the team “now is still desperately trying to locate the black box”.

airasia flight missing, airasia flights, AirAsia found, airasia, airasia flight QZ8501, airasia qz8501Map showing the designated search areas for the AirAsia flight QZ8501. Includes assets deployed in the search operations.

 Indonesia’s Minister for Maritime Affairs, Indroyono Soesilo, told another news conference: “With the finding of the tail, six SAR (search and rescue) ships are already at the location to search within a radius of two nautical miles.”

Forty bodies and debris from the plane have been plucked from the surface of the waters off Borneo, but strong winds and high waves have been hampering divers’ efforts to reach larger pieces of suspected wreckage detected by sonar on the sea floor.

Check out the conversation on Airasia flight QZ8501 on Twitter timeline:

“I am led to believe the tail section has been found. If right part of tail section then the black box should be there,” he tweeted.

“We need to find all parts soon so we can find all [our] guests to ease the pain of our families. That still is our priority.”

German insurer Allianz said it had begun making initial payments to the families of crash victims, although it declined to specify the amount.

“These payments are in no way final settlements,” said a spokesman for Allianz, which is the lead reinsurer for the consortium of insurers covering claims in the case. “We will agree further compensation in due course in consultation with all involved parties.”

airasia flight missing, airasia flights, AirAsia found, airasia, airasia flight QZ8501, air qz8501, air asia missingThe family of an AirAsia QZ8501 passenger leaves the identification area at Bhayangkara hospital in Surabaya January 7, 2015. Flight QZ8501 vanished from radar screens over the northern Java Sea on Dec. 28, less than half-way into a two-hour flight from Indonesia?s second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors among the 162 people on board. REUTERS

Check out what more Tony Fernandes has to say on Twitter:

Initial insurance payments to cover immediate financial hardship in similar cases have run at around $25,000 for the next of kin of each passenger, according to industry sources.

FINDING THE TAIL WAS PRIORITY
Locating the tail of the plane has been a priority because the cockpit voice and flight data recorders that can provide vital clues on why it crashed are located in the rear section of the Airbus.

 

“I am led to believe the tail section has been found,” AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes tweeted minutes after the announcement.
“If (it is the) right part of tail section, then the black box should be there … We need to find all parts soon so we can find all our guests to ease the pain of our families. That still is our priority.”

In Pangkalan Bun, the southern Borneo town closest to the crash site, search and rescue agency coordinator Supriyadi told reporters the bad weather that has dogged the operation for 10 days had abated.

Members of the National Search and Rescue Agency carry coffins containing bodies of the victims aboard AirAsia Flight 8501 to transfer to Surabaya, at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. At least two divers plunged into the choppy waters early Wednesday during a break in the bad weather to search for two large objects suspected of being chunks of the fuselage of the AirAsia plane that crashed more than one week ago, an Indonesian official said. (AP)Members of the National Search and Rescue Agency carry coffins containing bodies of the victims aboard AirAsia Flight 8501 to transfer to Surabaya, at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. At least two divers plunged into the choppy waters early Wednesday during a break in the bad weather to search for two large objects suspected of being chunks of the fuselage of the AirAsia plane that crashed more than one week ago, an Indonesian official said. (AP)

But, as ships with acoustic “pinger locators” designed to pick up signals from the black box converged on the scene of the find, he cautioned the tail section of the aircraft might not be fully intact.

“The location of the tail is relatively far from the point of last contact, about 30 km (20 miles),” he said.

“The black box is located behind the door, to the right of the tail. There is a possibility that the tail and the back of the plane are broken up.”

Until investigators can examine the black box recorders the cause of the crash remains a mystery, but the area where the plane was lost is known for intense seasonal storms. BMKG, Indonesia’s meteorological agency, has said bad weather may have caused ice to form on the aircraft’s engines.

Indonesia AirAsia, 49 percent owned by Fernandes’s Malaysia-based AirAsia budget group, has come under pressure from the authorities in Jakarta since the crash.

The transport ministry has suspended the carrier’s Surabaya-Singapore licence, saying it only had permission to fly the route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Flight QZ8501 took off on a Sunday, though the ministry said this had no bearing on the accident.

Fernandes however maintained that AirAsia had the required permission. “What happened was purely an administrative error,” he said in an e-mail. “The process has become clear now.”
AirAsia has said it is cooperating fully with the ministry’s investigations. That investigation would be completed by Friday evening, the transport ministry said on Wednesday.

Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets and its carriers, such as Lion Air and Garuda Indonesia , are among the top customers for plane makers Airbus and Boeing.

But its safety record is patchy. The European Commission banned all Indonesia-based airlines from flying to the European Union in 2007 following a series of accidents. Exemptions to that ban have since been granted to some carriers, including Garuda and AirAsia.

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