Airbus Releases Details of Missing AirAsia Plane

Air Asia plane
An Air Asia aircraft model 9M-AQB is seen on track at Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) airport at Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur November 19, 2013. Samsul Said/Reuters

The AirAsia aircraft that went missing on Sunday on its way to Singapore from Surabaya in Indonesia was delivered to its operator in 2008 and had recorded 23,000 flight hours on 13,600 flights, manufacturer Airbus said in a statement.

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, an Airbus 320-200 with 162 people aboard, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 a.m. (6.17 p.m. ET), officials said. The pilots had asked to change course to avoid bad weather.

More than 6,000 A320-200s are in service with over 300 operators. They are designed to be used intensively on short routes and are favoured, along with the competing Boeing 737, by the low-cost airlines that run such routes.

The A320-200 is a twin-engine single-aisle aircraft seating up to 180 passengers in a single-class configuration. The first A320 entered service in March 1988.

Airbus provided no other details regarding the incident or the aircraft. Aviation safety sources say aircraft of this type typically have a heavy maintenance check every 18-24 months.

The manufacturer said it would provide full assistance to the investigation, and to the French authority BEA which gets involved in such events because Airbus is France-based.

A BEA spokeswoman said it was in touch with Indonesian authorities to see what assistance it could offer in the search and rescue, but had no further comment.

The aircraft's engines were made by French-American venture CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and Safran, meaning the National Transportation Safety Board could also be accredited to take part in any investigation. The Washington-based NTSB was not available for immediate comment.

By default, the country where the plane is registered - Indonesia - takes charge of the investigation if the plane has crashed on its territory or in international waters, but it can also delegate the investigation to a third country.