Indonesian divers retrieve QZ8501 black box – TODAYonline

Posted: Monday, January 12, 2015

PANGKALAN BUN (Indonesia) — Indonesian navy divers retrieved the flight data recorder from the wreck of an AirAsia passenger jet yesterday, in a major step towards unravelling the cause of the crash that killed all 162 people on board.

Over the weekend, three vessels detected “pings” that were believed to be from the black boxes, but strong winds, powerful currents and high waves hampered search efforts. Dozens of Indonesian navy divers took advantage of calmer weather yesterday to retrieve the flight recorder and search for the fuselage of the plane.

“We succeeded in lifting the part of the black box known as the flight data recorder,” Mr Bambang Soelistyo, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters at a news conference.

The second so-called black box, containing the cockpit voice recorder, is located about 20m away from where the flight data recorder was found, but divers have not yet been able to get to it.

Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200 airliner, lost contact with air traffic control in bad weather less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Indonesia’s second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore on Dec 28.

“(The cockpit voice recorder) seems to be under a wing, which is quite heavy,” said Mr Suryadi Bambang Supriyadi, the operations coordinator for the search and rescue agency. “So we will use airbags to lift it. This will be done tomorrow.”

The black boxes, which emit signals from their beacons, should provide essential information about the plane moments before it plunged into the sea as well as all the conversations between the captain and the co-pilot for the duration of the flight.

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

But there was confusion about what happened in the final moments of the flight. Mr Supriyadi said the wreckage indicated that the plane had most likely experienced an explosion before hitting the water due to a significant change in air pressure. He said the left side of the plane seemed to have disintegrated, pointing to a change in pressure that could have caused an explosion.

But another official disputed the likelihood of a blast. “There is no data to support that kind of theory,” said Mr Santoso Sayogo, an investigator at the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC).

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