Bad Weather Hampers Search for Missing Russian Plane

Posted May 9th, 2012 at 3:40 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Bad weather in a mountainous area near the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, is hampering the search for a Russian jetliner that disappeared from radar Wednesday with 50 people on board.

Indonesian authorities said that as of mid-evening, the Sukhoi Superjet 100 has not been located. Head of the National Search and Rescue Agency Marshal Daryatmo said rescue teams from Russia and Indonesia would be deployed on foot Wednesday night in the area where the aircraft first lost contact. He said that if the plane is not located by Thursday morning, three helicopters will take over the search.

The aircraft took off from Jakarta's Halim Airport shortly after 2 p.m. local time and was expected to return in less than an hour. But the plane dropped altitude from 3,000 to 1,800 meters around Mount Salak and lost contact with air traffic control. Mount Salak is 2,200 meters high.

Indonesia's transport ministry said the 100-seat new passenger plane built by Russia in a move to boost its civil aviation industry, was on the second of two demonstration flights when it disappeared in the remote Bogor region. The people on board were all invited guests and included Indonesian airline and aviation executives, eight Russian crew members and five local journalists.

Russia has high hopes for its Superjet, which it believes would become an influential player in the global aviation market.

The Itar-Tass news agency said the newly-minted plane recently performed demonstrations in Central and South Asia, including flights in Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Burma and had logged about 6,500 hours of flight time since its 2008 maiden launch.

The jetliner is currently in use with Russia's largest carrier, Aeroflot, and the Armenian carrier, Armavia.