(MOSCOW) — Authorities fear a Russian passenger jet has crashed in Indonesia after it fell off radar screens while it was on a test flight near Jakarta.
The Sukhoi Superjet-100 was carrying at least 44 people and vanished from detection after the pilot requested permission to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet. The Russian news agency RIA Novasti reported that the plane was last seen turning toward a tall mountain range south of Jakarta.
Olga Kayukova, a spokeswoman for the United Aircraft Corporation, which owns Sukhoi, said in a statement posted on Facebook that the plane had been checked properly prior to take-off. She confirmed that air traffic control lost contact with the plane about 20 minutes into the flight.
“We are carrying out search operations, set up operational headquarters,” she wrote.
According to a Russian blogger, search operations began using helicopters, but had to turn back due to bad weather. A search party has set out on land, but has not yet found the plane.
The plane was part of a pair that were reportedly on a six country swing through Asia where it was being demonstrated for potential customers, including government and military officials. They had already been to Myanmar, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. They were to travel to Laos and Vietnam next.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN