AirAsia black box recorder retrieved

Indonesian divers Monday retrieved the flight data recorder of the AirAsia plane that went down in the Java Sea a fortnight ago with 162 people on board, a crucial breakthrough that should help explain what caused the crash. 

The recorder, one of two black boxes containing vital information, was brought to the surface at 7.11am (0011 GMT), said national search and rescue chief Bambang Soelistyo, after a lengthy, 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 the capital Jakarta. 

He said that it was found under the wreckage of a wing and added that divers were still hunting for the second black box, the cockpit voice recorder. 

National Transport Safety Committee senior investigator Mardjono Siswosuwarno told AFP that the black boxes would be sent to Jakarta and analysed at the committee’s laboratory.

The flight data recorder monitors factors such as airspeed and heading, while the cockpit voice recorder stores radio transmissions and sounds in the cockpit.

Flight QZ8501 crashed on December 28 en route from Indonesia’s Surabaya to Singapore. Indonesia’s meteorological agency has said that stormy weather likely caused the Airbus A320-200 to go down but a definitive answer is impossible without the data recorders.

Forty-eight bodies have been recovered so far, but the weather has hampered efforts to locate all the victims and the wreckage.  

On Sunday, Indonesia’s transport ministry said the black boxes had been located under the plane’s wreckage after officials earlier said strong ping signals had been detected near an object believed to be the main body of the plane.

S.B. Supriyadi, a director with the national search and rescue agency, said that initial analysis of the wreckage so far recovered indicated that the plane exploded on impact with the water.

“It exploded because of the pressure,” he told reporters in Pangkalan Bun town 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.”

 Victims believed trapped in cabin
The search has involved US, Chinese and other international naval ships.

Supriyadi said many bodies were believed trapped in the cabin, so reaching that part of the wreckage was also a top priority.

The tail of the plane, with its red AirAsia logo, was lifted out of the water on Saturday using giant balloons and a craneIt 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, Indonesian authorities said.

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.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

‘Frustrated’ police resort to force

Regulation uncertainty leaves slap-happy police and soldiers to decide when people should or shouldn’t be allowed on the streets

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders