Flight 8501, the AirAsia plane that crashed off Indonesia on Dec. 28, was flying on an unauthorized schedule, according to the country’s transport ministry on Saturday. The organization says it had prohibited the airline from flying that route.
The flight departed from Juanda International Airport last Sunday with 162 people onboard – 155 passengers and seven crew. The plane had encountered a cluster of storms minutes before it crashed, but the Indonesian Transport Ministry reported that no distress signal was received from the aircraft.
The plane lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control and crashed into the Java Sea. It was en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore.
“It violated the route permit given, the schedule given, that’s the problem,” director general of air transport Djoko Murjatmodjo told AFP. “AirAsia’s permit for the route has been frozen because it violated the route permit given.”
Murjatmodjo added that the permit would be frozen pending further investigations.
Transport ministry spokesman JA Barata also said AirAsia wasn’t allowed to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on Sundays and hadn’t requested a schedule change.
This announcement came as the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency Bambang Soelistyo claimed two parts of the plane in the Java Sea had been uncovered on late Friday night, leading many to believe that the aircraft’s black boxes will be found soon.
“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.
“As I speak we are lowering an 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 30 meters,” he added.