UPDATE: THE search for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 which vanished over Indonesia on Sunday has been suspended.
The Airbus A320-200 was 42 minutes into its two hour and 13 minute flight from Indonesia to Singapore when it lost contact with Air Traffic Control in Jakarta at 7.24am local time on 28 December.
It’s understood the aircraft was flying at 32,000 feet and requested to deviate from its original flight path due to bad weather shortly before communication was lost.
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In all, 162 people were on board, including 155 passengers and seven crew, 155 of whom were from Indonesia, three from South Korea and one each from Singapore, Malaysia, France and the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott tonight spoke with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, offering all available assistance in the search for the missing plane.
Mr Abbott told President Widodo that Australia had a P3 Orion aircraft on standby, ready to assist.
The search, which has been suspended for the night, is set to continue at first light.
EARLIER: AN AirAsia passenger plane carrying 138 adults, 16 children, one baby and seven crew members has vanished over Indonesia.
AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501 lost contact with Jakarta Air Traffic Control at 7.24am local time while en route to Singapore from Surabaya.
It was scheduled to arrive at 8.30am Singapore time (10.30am AEDST) after a total flight time of two hours and 13 minutes.
The plane was reportedly flying at 32,000 feet when it requested a different route due to bad weather before communication was lost.
The airline has confirmed 162 people were on board, including 155 passengers, two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer.
Of the passengers and crew, 157 are said to be from Indonesia, three from Korea, and one each from Malaysia and Singapore.
“AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24hrs this morning,” the low-cost Malaysian airline said in a statement.
“There were 155 passengers on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots and 5 cabin crew.
“At this time, search and rescue operations are being conducted under the guidance of The Indonesia of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). AirAsia Indonesia is cooperating fully and assisting the investigation in every possible way.”
The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC and had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November 2014.
AirAsia officials said the captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said search and rescue operation had been activated by the Indonesian authorities from the Pangkai Pinang Search and Rescue office.
The Singapore Rescue Coordination Centre has also been activated.
The airline has since replaced its usual bright red and white Twitter and Facebook profile pictures with dull grey versions.
AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre for family or friends of those who may have been on board: +622129850801
Meanwhile, back home in Australia an emergency number has been setup for any Australians who may be concerned that relatives or friends may have been on board the AirAsia flight. That number to call is 1300 555 135
This is a developing story – there is no further information available at this time.