Authorities checking reports of missing Air Asia flight crashing in East Pacific Islands
The missing flight path was through the intertropical convergence zone of stormy weather say expertsReuters

The mysterious disappearance of AirAsia flight QZ8501 has brought back memories of the missing Malaysian Flight MH370, and this has led to immediate comparisons between the two incidents.

Early on Sunday morning [28 December], AirAsia Flight QZ8501 from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore went off the radar at 6:17am local time. The incident is similar to the disappearance of the Malaysian aircraft MH370 which was on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur in March 2014.

"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," states an ABC news report.

Location

The presumed location of the AirAsia flight is in the relatively shallow waters of the Java Sea, as opposed to the deep waters of the Indian Ocean, where MH370 disappeared.

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

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

Distress report

Even though there was no emergency call from the AirAsia flight crew, the pilot did report severe weather conditions and requested for a change in route, before the flight disappeared.

In the case of MH370, the pilots did not report bad weather nor did they send any distress messages before it suddenly lost contact with air traffic controllers.

Reported time for the plane to go missing

The Air Asia pilot last spoke to flight control at 6:13 am and it was visible on radar until 6:16 am - a minute later it went missing.

When MH370 disappeared from Malaysian radar, it took 17 minutes for air traffic control in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to realise the plane was missing and contact Malaysian controllers to ask about the location of the plane.

Plane altitude

Reportedly, MH370 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 centres surrounding the Java Sea. Also fuel limitations wouldn't have allowed to plane to fly too far in a different direction.

Size of plane

The missing flight MH370 was flown on a much larger Boeing 777, compared to Air Asia's Airbus A320-200.