Why the Search for Missing AirAsia Flight Is Different From MH 370

There are important differences in the case of two missing planes.

Neither flight issued a distress call and both were run by Malaysia-based airlines. But there are key differences that could help authorities find the AirAsia plane as opposed to MH370, which remains missing.

Early Sunday morning, AirAsia Flight QZ8501 went missing from radar at 6:17 a.m. local time on a flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore. There were 162 people onboard. The plane remains missing after a day of searching by Indonesian authorities.

John Nance, an aviation expert and former pilot in the Air Force, said the Java Sea will be far easier to search because the waters are much shallower and better known.

"It'll be easier because it's very well mapped," said Nance.

Nance also pointed out that the pilot had reported severe weather and asked to change altitude immediately before the plane vanished from radar.

"Since there was no emergency call from the crew, whatever happened, happened suddenly," he said.

Flight control last spoke to the Air Asia pilot at 6:13 and it was seen on radar until 6:16. One minute later it went missing.

The pilots of MH370 did not report bad weather or any distress before losing contact with air traffic controllers.

It is also believed that MH 370 kept flying long after it dropped contact with air traffic control and its transponder was turned off, adding to the mystery of what could have happened on board.

Nance said it is unlikely the AirAsia flight could have kept flying after disappearing from radar because it would have likely shown up on either military or civilian radar centers surrounding the Java Sea.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.