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Local Aviation Expert Comments On Clues That May Reveal What Happened To Missing AirAsia Flight

SACRAMENTO (CBS) - A massive search is underway for a missing AirAsia flight. Flight 8501 disappeared with 162 people onboard on Sunday.

CBS News reports the plane is likely at the bottom of the ocean. It's the second plane in less than a year to vanish in the South Pacific, but a local aviation expert believes the two cases are entirely different.

A local aviation expert says travelers should not be concerned the next time they fly. Professor Scott Miller says although these types of accidents receive a lot of attention, the numbers prove how rare it is for these things to occur and safety records are the best in years.

"The reasons for these accidents are pretty wide-ranging," said Miller.

As he sits behind a flight simulator, the professor of aeronautics at Sacramento City College explains how rare and strange it is for flights to crash or simply "disappear."

"We're enjoying levels of safety that we haven't seen in the industry before," said Miller.

Early Sunday morning, AirAsia flight 8501 was traveling from Indonesia to Singapore. About 30 minutes into the flight, the pilot asked for an altitude and course change -- a red flag for Professor Miller. He says pilots usually ask for one or the other.

"The last transmission we heard which was a request for both increase in altitude and a routing deviation at the same time. That makes it pretty clear to me that there was some pretty severe weather in the area," he said.

Miller has been a pilot for 30 years, and has been teaching at Sac City for five. He says though the area was expecting severe weather, the call to cancel or delay the flight would have only occurred if thunderstorms were expected at take-off or landing.

"It's actually quite easy to go around areas of thunderstorms," he said.

The missing airliner is eerily similar to the still-missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370.

"I do believe what is happening though, particularly with these lost aircrafts, is a very sad coincidence," he said.

Miller suspects the two will have different outcomes. He believes weather played a role on Sunday, but says in the case of the Malaysian flight, "Based on the external factors, the weather conditions and how the aircraft reacted, it really does appear that human intervention was at work there."

Professor Miller also says he has personally flown on AirAsia before. Their reputation is a good one. He says with the type of technology and equipment on the aircraft, it will hopefully be found in a few days.

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