Up to 48 passengers were on board the suchoi superjet 100, said the head of the indonesian aviation authority, herry bakti singoyudha, in jakarta. "We are still looking for it," he added. "We don’t know what happened."Bad weather initially hampered the search from the air.
An unnamed russian aviation expert said there was little hope for a happy outcome. He spoke of 44 occupants. There were 8 russians and 36 representatives of indonesian airlines on board the aircraft. According to information from jakarta, there were 40 indonesians and eight russians. Two helicopters aborted the aerial search as heavy clouds and strong winds hampered their flight, according to officials.
The plane disappeared from the radar screen in the area of the 2200 meter high volcano salak near the capital jakarta, singoyudha said. Shortly before, the crew had asked to be allowed to reduce the flight altitude from 10,000 to 6,000 fub (about 3,000 to 1,800 meters). A spokesman for the russian aviation consortium OAK confirmed in moscow that the radio link with the plane has been severed, reported the agency interfax. A spokesman for the russian ministry of industry said the aircraft had been inspected before the flight and found to be technically sound. "They made two demonstration flights," said adang surpiyadi, commander of halim military airport in jakarta. Contact with the plane was broken only about twelve minutes after takeoff on the second flight. There were reportedly no problems on the first flight. The local television station trans TV reported that one of its reporters and a cameraman were also on board. The aircraft was on a demonstration tour of six asian countries, it continued.
The superjet 100, which is also equipped with western technology, is the first passenger aircraft to be developed in russia since the collapse of the soviet union. Moscow has ambitious plans for the aircraft. The superjet, developed in cooperation with boeing and european companies, is to compete on the world market with the industry giants bombardier (canada) and embraer (brazil).
Only recently, the civilian division of the fighter jet manufacturer suchoi had received official approval for the european union. However, engine problems have so far delayed delivery of the aircraft. During the flight from birma to indonesia, the airplane had crossed the aquator for the first time.