Black box, cockpit voice recorder of crashed AirAsia found by divers

World Today

A flight data recorder of the ill-fated AirAsia Flight 8501 that crashed in the Java Sea, at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia (AP) — Divers retrieved one black box Monday and located the other from the ill-fated AirAsia plane that crashed more than two weeks ago, key developments that should help investigators unravel what caused the aircraft to lose contact and plummet into the Java Sea. CCTV’s Andy Saputra reported this story from Jakarta. 

One of the black boxes arrived in Jakarta on Monday for examination. Divers had earlier retrieved the flight data recorder and located the cockpit voice recorder, but it could take up to two weeks to download and analyze their information, according to an investigator at the National Committee for Safety Transportation.

Photos: Underwater images of AirAsia Flight 8501

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“At 7:11 a.m. local time, we had succeeded in lifting the part of the black box known as the flight data recorder,” said Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, chief of the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency.

Data recorders hold vital data readings, such as the altitude, the velocity, the direction, and the state of the plane before it crashed. But an analysis of the recorders will take months if not years.

“The fastest final report of an incident we ever managed was seven months, we hope that the data from the flight data recorder are of good quality still, so we can create a detailed and clear report,” said Masruri of the Indonesian National Transport Safety Board, who like many Indonesians has one name.

Yet, even before the analysis starts, clues on how devastating the crash was have emerged.

“Judging from the locations, this could be caused by the initial impact. As we can tell from the condition of the plane, that has been ripped apart, this means that the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder also experienced a high velocity impact and that’s why these items were thrown,” he said.

CCTV’s Andy Saputra reported more on this story from Jakarta.

Data recorders retrieved from AirAsia crash site

Two weeks since AirAsia flight QZ8501 vanished from radar authorities announced that they have found the plane’s data recorders that could help explain the mystery of the crash. CCTV's Andy Saputra reported this story from Jakarta.

Head Investigator Mardjono Siswo Suwarnouuh said the box would be opened in accordance with established protocol.

The flight data recorder was pulled from beneath a piece of the aircraft’s wing and brought to the sea’s surface, and the cockpit voice recorder was found hours later, according to Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency.

Suwarnouuh said the voice recorder was about 20 meters (66 feet) from the data recorder but remained lodged beneath heavy wreckage, and divers were struggling to free it at a depth of 32 meters (105 feet).

Searchers began zeroing in on the location a day earlier after three Indonesian ships picked up intense pings from the area, but they were unable to see the devices due to strong currents and poor visibility.

The two instruments, which emit signals from their beacons, are vital to understanding what brought Flight 8501 down on December 28, killing all 162 people on board.

They should provide essential information about the plane and all of the conversations between the captain and co-pilot for the duration of the flight.

“There’s like 200-plus parameters they record,” said aviation safety expert John Goglia, a former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board member. “It’s going to provide us an ocean of material.”

The slow-moving hunt, which has often gone days with little progress, was boosted over the weekend when the Airbus A320’s tail was lifted from the seabed. It was the first major wreckage excavated from the crash site, but the black boxes were not found inside as hoped.

Search efforts have been consistently hampered by big waves and powerful currents created by the region’s rainy season. Silt and sand, along with river runoff, have created blinding conditions for divers.

Henry Bambang Soelistyo, head of the national search and rescue agency, said on Sunday that divers had located a wing and debris from an engine. Officials have been working urgently to locate the main section of the plane’s cabin, where many of the victims’ corpses are believed to be entombed.

So far, only 48 bodies have been recovered. Decomposition is making identification more difficult for desperate families waiting to bury their loved ones. Nearly all of the passengers were Indonesian.

“I still believe many victims remain trapped there, and we must find them,” said Gen. Moeldoko, Indonesia’s military chief, who uses one name.

He said more than 80 divers were involved in the recovery effort and have been ordered to make finding the fuselage their top priority.

The last contact the pilots had with air traffic control, less than halfway into their two-hour journey from Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya, to Singapore, indicated they were entering stormy weather. They asked to climb from 32,000 feet (9,753 meters) to 38,000 feet (11,582 meters) to avoid threatening clouds, but were denied permission because of heavy air traffic. Four minutes later, the plane dropped off the radar. No distress signal was sent.

Additional reporting compiled from The Associated Press

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