As the search for missing AirAsia flight 8501 enters its third day, investigators leading the search have reported smoke coming from an island inside the search area. While Indonesian officials believe the aircraft is likely “at the bottom of the sea,” officials will move the search to land on Tuesday.
According to Dr. Mac Ruland, director of operations for the search team, two Cessna jets are to be dispatched to search the island, which is larger than the state of California.
So far the search has been concentrated over the Java Sea, where various reports of floating objects and oil slicks having been investigated, but has failed to turn up anything that would have come from the missing aircraft.
The plane disappeared from radar in the early hours of Sunday morning, with the last known communication being the pilot asking for permission to climb above 34,000 feet to avoid clouds. According to Indonesia’s acting director general of transportation, Djoko Murjatmodjo, the aircraft was last seen on radar at 6:16 a.m. and then was gone one minute later.
To help in the search the U.S. warship USS Sampson is being sent to aid searchers. It will arrive in the evening of the third day of the search, according to CBS news.
The aircraft was expected to make a two-hour journey from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore before it encountered what appeared to be bad weather and then vanished from radars.
"Typically we don't see large commercial aircrafts being taken down by severe weather ... when you talk about smaller aircrafts going into thunderstorms, in-flight breakups are a possibility," Deborah Hersman, former chairman of the NTSB and current president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said Monday on "CBS This Morning."
An Australian Orion aircraft operating in an expanded search area picked up "suspicious" objects near an island about 100 miles off central Kalimantan and about 700 miles from where the aircraft lost contact, according to Jakarta’s air force base commander, Rear Marshal Dwi Putranto said.
"However, we cannot be sure whether it is part of the missing AirAsia plane," Putranto said. "We are now moving in that direction."