AirAsia Flight 8501 Disappears

ABC News' David Kerley and ret. Col. Steve Ganyard on the AirAsia passenger jet that disappeared mid-flight near Indonesia this weekend.
6:00 | 12/28/14

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Transcript for AirAsia Flight 8501 Disappears
special edition of ABC's "This week," game changers. Well Iowa, we did it, we did it! The twists and surprises. Tim Howard is there. The people who made their mark in 2014. We're inside the fight against ebola. How these heros beat the odds. The new high stakes drama. Has Vladimir Putin reignited the cold war. After a tough year for the NFL, has soccer now become America's game? And the powerful emotional story behind the year's biggest viral video. One hour of new, exclusive interviews and insights. The game changers of 2014. From ABC news, a special edition of "This week" with George stephanopoulos begins now. Good morning, and welcome to our special holiday edition of "This week," a week we mark each year with our special game changers edition. There is a big developing story right now and we want to get right to it. Thank you and good morning. I'm Dan Harris in New York. We are tracking breaking news. Just nine months after Malaysia air flight 370 disappeared, another passenger plane from an airline based in Malaysia has vanished in that same part of the world. Air Asia flight 8501 was in the middle of what was supposed to be a short two-hour flight from the Indonesian city of surabaya to Singapore when it disappeared from the radar. More than 160 people were on board, including children. ABC's David Kerley is tracking all of this. Good morning to you. Reporter: It will be an agonizing night for families. It is now dark over the java sea where a handful of aircraft looked for this missing jetliner. This is the actual air Asia a 320 that's missing at this hour. Indonesian and singaporen people spent the afternoon looking for any sign of the jetliner which was carrying 161 people, mostly Indonesians. Flight 8501 took off early Saturday morning heading for Singapore. 42 minutes into the flight the jet runs into severe weather, thunderstorms and turbulence. The pilot asked to turn and to increase altitude significantly from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet. The jet then just disappears off radar. Call centers and family areas are set up for those wondering about passengers which include 16 children and one infant with a crew of six. The a 32 was just 8 years old. Air Asia is a low cost startup airline and has a good safety record, but the mystery is what happened to this aircraft and where it is this morning. The search has been called off now that it's dark over the java sea. President Obama has been advised about the situation. Another mystery surrounding a south asian aircraft. Another mystery, David, thank you. Let's bring in our aviation expert, Steve ganyard who is a former Marine Corps fighter pilot. Steve, I know for many of us when we're on planes and we're in that moment when we hit turbulence, we all try to remember, at least I do, that planes are build to withstand bad weather. Given that, what could have possibly gone wrong here? Lots of things could have gone wrong, Dan. I think we're sort of grasping at straws. Why should a seemingly perfect good airplane drop out of the sky at 32,000 feet. I think the first thing we look at is weather and we see quite a bit of weather in the area. Big thunderstorms. They were moving around to avoid some of the thunderstorms. We shouldn't get too pulled off on this idea that it was just weather. There may be some other factors here that we're going to really need to P find as the investigation goes on. The question on everybody's mind this morning is how is this happening again, in this age of high tech, how have two planes simply disappeared from radar? It's really discouraging. If you think back in March when we lost the Malaysian aircraft off the coast of Australia, we think it's off the coast of Australia, and we said never again should we lose an airplane. Here we are almost 24 hours into another missing aircraft. In this day and age, there's enough technology that we should never again lose an airplane. We should know right where it is right now and we ought to have ships and rescue aircraft out there right now. Just to be clear, every time a plane crashes, it does go off radar, but you're saying there should be more of an indication here than there is. Right. The fact that after a full day we weren't able to find wreckage or any indication of this aircraft, it just says we have to improve the way we track airplanes and we shouldn't be able to lose them. Once we can find the area, you look at the java sea where this is, it's a vast area of big ocean. There's not a lot out there so getting folks out there to look for that airplane is going to be tough. That said, it's a very shallow sea so it's not like the coast of Australia that's very deep water. So if we can get to the proximate area, we'll have a good chance of recovering this aircraft, finding that black box that will tell you what truly happened to this aircraft. Perhaps this won't be as an enduring a mystery as mh 370 continues to be. Just one last quick question here. David mentioned that this is an airline with a good safety track record. What more do we know about this airline? It is. It's a startup. It's been around almost a decade. It flies the a 320 which is a terrific airline. No red flags popping up about this airline. No safety problems that you would say, oh, well, that's to be expected. In this case, very good airline, very good airplane, a plane that's designed to fly around weather like this, well trained pilots. It seems like this is a total mystery at this point, Dan. We keep saying it is a mystery. Steve, thank you. A reminder, we're tracking the story all day long at We'll have the very latest on

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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