NEW DELHI: The Navy has put on standby three ships and a maritime surveillance aircraft for assistance in the search operations, after an AirAsia flight from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board went missing on Sunday after losing contact with air traffic controllers.
Navy sources said one ship in the Bay of Bengal and two others in the Andaman Sea have been put on standby.
“The Navy has kept one Boeing P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft at INS Rajali (at Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu) and three ships ready for search and rescue operations for the missing Malaysian airliner. But deployment of these assets will happen only after approval from the government,” a source said.
“The assets have been put on standby in view of the gravity of the situation.
“They will be rushed into service as and when any order is issued,” the sources said.
The Navy had carried out a massive search and rescue operation, dubbed Operation Searchlight, in March this year to locate another missing airliner, MH370.
The country deployed six ships, three each from the Navy and the coast guard.
It had also used Dornier aircraft belonging to the Navy and the coast guard and even its P-8I, a long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft, to cover over 200,000 sq km of the Andaman Sea and Indian Ocean.
Meanwhile on Sunday, A Singaporean transport official said Flight QZ8501 lost contact with Jakarta Air Traffic Control just after 07:24 hours local time.
The aircraft was in the Indonesian Flight Information Region (FIR), more than 200 nautical miles southeast of the Singapore-Jakarta FIR boundary, when contact was lost, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said.
Contact with the plane was lost 42 minutes after takeoff. No Indian national was on board.