Yemisi Izuora/Agency Report
Divers have found both the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) crucial to the investigations into what led to the AirAsia plane that crashed in the Java Sea two weeks ago with 162 people aboard.
Henry Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, said the black boxes were brought to the surface by four divers early on Monday morning.
Divers began to zero in on the site a day earlier after picking up intense pings from its beacons, but they were unable to get a visual on it due to strong currents and poor visibility.
The cockpit voice and flight data recorders are vital to understanding what brought Flight 8501 down on December 28, killing all 162 people on board.
“The navy divers in Jadayat state boat have succeeded in finding a very important instrument, the black box of AirAsia QZ8501,” Tonny Budiono, a senior ministry official, had said.
The recorders were at a depth of 30-32 metres, Budiono added.
The Indonesian meteorological agency has said stormy weather likely caused the Airbus A320-200 to crash as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.
But a definitive answer is impossible without the black box, which should contain the pilots’ final words as well as various flight data.
SB Supriyadi, a director with the National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters on Sunday that an object believed to be the plane’s main body had also been detected near the source of the pings.
The search, which has involved US, Chinese and other international naval ships, has recovered 48 bodies so far.
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 crane.
It was brought by tugboat on Sunday to a port near the search headquarters, at Pangkalan Bun town on Borneo island.
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.