Jakarta/Singapore, Jan 3: Four large metal objects belonging to the doomed AirAsia jet were found today in the choppy waters of the Java Sea as it emerged that the plane carrying 162 people on board was flying on an unauthorised schedule when it crashed.
Multi-national searchers equipped with sophisticated acoustic equipment have been scouring the choppy waters to retrieve the bodies of victims and the debris as well as black box recorders of the Airbus 320.
"We've found four big parts from the plane we're looking for," Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia's search and rescue agency Basarnas, told reporters in Jakarta.
One large object was pinpointed by a ship searching during the night, he said, and three more, the largest of which was around 18 metres long, were located today on the sea bed. Two objects were found at the bottom of the sea near Pangkalan Bun.
One of the them was measured at 9.4 metres by 4.8 metres and a half-metre high. The other, found nearby, was 7.2 metres by a half metre. High waves continued to hamper the search effort, but the teams placed high hopes on tomorrow as the tides were forecast to be between 1.5 metres and 2 metres, Soelistyo said.
Till now 30 bodies have been retrieved from the Java Sea. Meanwhile, the Indonesian authorities said AirAsia had violated the terms of its licence for the Surabaya to Singapore route by flying on a Sunday, the day the Flight QZ8501 plunged into the Java Sea.
The authorities would probe the carrier's other schedules, The Straits Times reported. The AirAsia plane was not permitted to fly the Surabaya- Singapore route on Sundays.
"It violated the route permit given, the schedule given, that's the problem," director-general of air transport Djoko Murjatmodjo said. He added that AirAsia's permit for the route has been frozen until investigations are completed.
AirAsia Indonesia is only allowed to ply that route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but had done so on Sundays as well. Singapore today said that it had approved the Surabaya- Singapore route for AirAsia flights on Sundays after the low-cost carrier's permit was frozen by Indonesia for allegedly flying on an unauthorised schedule when it crashed last weekend over Java sea.
Authorities are also investigating the possibility that the pilot, Captain Irianto, did not ask for a weather report from the meteorological agency at the time of takeoff. Pilots were required to do so before flying, media reports said.