Indonesian divers retrieve the flight data recorder of the AirAsia plane that went down in the Java Sea with 162 people on board, a potential breakthrough in efforts to discover what caused the crash. Duration: 00:53
Indonesia retrieves crashed AirAsia jet's flight data recorder
Indonesia retrieves crashed AirAsia jet’s flight data recorder
/ ABOARD THE KRI BANDA ACEH WARSHIP (Indonesia) – 12 January 2015 18:01 – AFP (Olivia Rondonuwu) / WRAP – UPDATE
Indonesian divers Monday retrieved the flight data recorder of the AirAsia plane that went down in the Java Sea with 162 people on board, a potential breakthrough in efforts to discover what caused the crash.
The recorder, one of two black boxes containing vital information, was brought to the surface by navy divers early in the morning, said national search and rescue chief Bambang Soelistyo, after a fortnight-long frustrating search often hampered by bad weather.
“We succeeded in bringing up part of the black box that we call the flight data recorder,” Soelistyo told reporters in Jakarta, adding it had been recovered from under the wreckage of a wing.
Indonesian military chief Moeldoko expressed confidence that rescuers would retrieve the second black box, the cockpit voice recorder, saying it was emitting strong “ping” signals. Officials believe it is about 20 metres (65 feet) from the first.
“The signal is very strong, so I am sure we can find it,” Moeldoko told reporters aboard navy ship KRI Banda Aceh.
The flight data recorder monitors information such as airspeed and heading, while the cockpit voice recorder stores radio transmissions and sounds in the cockpit. Both are located near the rear of the plane and designed to survive underwater.
Flight QZ8501 crashed on December 28 on a short journey from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. Indonesia’s meteorological agency has said stormy weather likely caused the Airbus A320-200 to go down but a definitive answer is impossible without the data recorders.
After a lengthy search, rescuers on Sunday detected the ping signals given off by the recorders’ emergency transmitters close to what was initially thought to be the main body of the plane.
However Moeldoko said Monday the main cabin, which is believed to contain most of the victims, had not yet been found. Just 48 bodies have so far been recovered.
– Exploded on impact –
Officials said they believe the flight data recorder is in good condition and it was being flown to Jakarta on Monday. Indonesia’s National Transport Safety Committee said it would undergo a lengthy analysis in the capital, with the help of a team of experts including from France and manufacturer Airbus.
The committee has said a preliminary report on the accident will be produced within a month, and a final report after a year.
S.B. Supriyadi, a director with the national search and rescue agency, said initial analysis of the wreckage so far recovered indicated that the plane broke apart on impact with the water.
“It exploded because of the pressure,” he told reporters in the town of Pangkalan Bun on Borneo island, the search headquarters.
“The cabin was pressurised and before the pressure of the cabin could be adjusted, it went down — boom. That explosion was heard in the area.”
The search has involved US, Chinese and other international naval ships.
The tail of the plane, with its red AirAsia logo, was lifted out of the water on Saturday using giant balloons and a crane. It was brought by tugboat on Sunday to a port near Pangkalan Bun.
All but seven of those on board the flight were Indonesian.
The bodies of a South Korean couple were identified on Sunday, but their 11-month-old baby remains unaccounted for.
The other foreigners were one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one Briton and a Frenchman — co-pilot Remi Plesel. Their bodies have not been recovered.
While the cause of the crash is unknown, the disaster has once again placed Indonesia’s chaotic aviation industry under scrutiny.
Indonesian officials have alleged Indonesia AirAsia did not have a licence to fly the route on the day of the crash, although the airline rejects the claim.
Indonesia’s transport ministry quickly banned AirAsia from flying the Surabaya-Singapore route.
On Friday it suspended dozens more routes operated by five other domestic airlines for similar licence violations.
Despite the disaster, analysts believe that Malaysia-based AirAsia — which has had a spectacular 13-year run of success — will overcome its first major reversal.