UPDATE 3-Divers retrieve "black box" data recorder from AirAsia wreck – Reuters

Posted: Monday, January 12, 2015

* Flight data recorder found, on its way to Jakarta for
analysis

* Cockpit voice recorder located based on “pings”

* Analysing “black box” could take 2 weeks to a month

(Adds black box condition, armed forces chief comments)

By Charlotte Greenfield and Kanupriya Kapoor

JAKARTA/PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia, Jan 12 (Reuters) –
I ndonesian navy divers retrieved the black box flight data
recorder from the wreck of an AirAsia passenger jet on
Monday, a major step towards investigators unravelling the cause
of the crash that killed all 162 people on board.

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

“At 7:11, we succeeded in lifting the part of the black box
known as the flight data recorder,” Fransiskus Bambang
Soelistyo, the 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, has been located but not yet retrieved, Madjono
Siswosuwarno, the main investigator at the National
Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC), told Reuters.

The black boxes, found near the wrecked wing of the plane in
the northern Java Sea, contain a wealth of data that will be
crucial for investigators piecing together the sequence of
events that led to the airliner plunging into the sea. The
national weather bureau has said seasonal storms were likely a
factor in AirAsia’s first fatal crash.

The flight data recorder was brought by helicopter to
Pangkalan Bun, the southern Borneo town that has been the base
for the search effort, and then flown to Jakarta for analysis.

The black box looked to be in good condition, said Tatang
Kurniadi, the head of the transport safety committee.

Investigators may need up to a month to get a complete
reading of the data.

“The download is easy, probably one day. But the reading is
more difficult … could take two weeks to one month,” the
NTSC’s Siswosuwarno said.

CALMER WATERS

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 on Monday to retrieve the flight recorder and search for
the fuselage of the Airbus A320-200.

Forty-eight bodies have been retrieved from the Java Sea and
brought to Surabaya for identification. Searchers believe more
bodies will be found in the plane’s fuselage.

Relatives of the victims have urged authorities to make
finding the remains of their loved ones the priority.

“I told our soldiers that the search isn’t over yet,” Armed
Forces Chief Moeldoko told reporters. “I am sure the remaining
victims are in the body of the plane. So we need to find those.”

Indonesia AirAsia, 49 percent owned by the Malaysia-based
AirAsia budget group, has come under pressure from
authorities in Jakarta since the crash.

The transport ministry has suspended the carrier’s
Surabaya-Singapore licence for flying on a Sunday, for which it
did not have permission. However, the ministry has said this had
no bearing on the crash of Flight QZ8501.

President Joko Widodo said the crash exposed widespread
problems in the management of air travel in Indonesia.

(Additional reporting by Cindy Silviana, Eveline Danubrata,
Fergus Jensen, Gayatri Suroyo and Nilufar Rizki in JAKARTA;
Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Paul Tait and Alex Richardson)

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