Indonesia recovers second Lion Air black box
The cockpit voice recorder from a Lion Air jet crashed in October has been recovered, Indonesian authorities said on Monday, a discovery that could be critical to answering why the plane fell down shortly after takeoff.
The Boeing 737 Max vanished from radar about 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on October 29, slamming into the Java Sea moments after pilots had asked to return to the capital and killing all 189 people onboard.
Haryo Satmiko, deputy head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, said on Monday morning that investigators had already recovered the flight data recorder from the Boeing 737 Max, which provided information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane before it plunged into the sea.
The preliminary crash report from Indonesia’s transport safety agency suggested that pilots of Flight 610 struggled to control the plane’s anti-stalling system immediately before the crash.
Investigators also found that the Lion Air jet should have been grounded over a recurrent technical problem before its fatal journey, but did not pinpoint a cause for the accident.
A final crash report is not likely to be filed until later this year.
The cockpit voice recorder was discovered about 10 meters from the plane’s data recorder, commander of the navy’s Lion Air search and rescue task force said.
Cockpit voice recorder and data recorder are called “black boxes”. Despite the name, black boxes are usually bright orange with reflective stripes, and all commercial planes are obliged to have them on board. They’re built to survive at vast depths and in extreme heat, and are fitted with a beacon which can emit a signal for one month. According to aviation experts, black box data help explain nearly 90 percent of all crashes.
Agung Nugroho, the spokesman for the Indonesian Navy’s western fleet, said divers using high-tech “ping locator” equipment had started a new search effort on Friday and found the voice recorder beneath 8 meters of seabed mud, the Jakarta Post reported. The plane crashed in waters 30 meters deep.
“This is good news, especially for us who lost our loved ones,” said Irianto, the father of Rio Nanda Pratama, a doctor who died in the crash.
“Even though we don’t yet know the contents of the CVR, this is some relief from our despair,” he said.
Reports said the grim task of identifying victims of the crash had been called off in November, with only 125 people officially identified after tests on human remains that filled nearly 200 body bags.
Following requests from victims’ families, Lion Air said in December it would allocate 38 billion rupiah ($2.6 million) to hire a Dutch company to continue the search with its ship the
Nearly 30 relatives of the crash victims have filed lawsuits against Boeing, alleging faults with the new model 737 MAX led to the deaths, AFP reported.
Lion Air is one of Indonesia’s youngest airlines but has grown rapidly, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations. The crashed plane Boeing plane is one of the world’s newest and most advanced commercial passenger jets.
After investigators said the doomed aircraft had problems with its airspeed indicator and angle of attack (AoA) sensors, Boeing issued a special bulletin telling operators what to do when they face the same situation.
An AOA sensor provides data about the angle at which air is passing over the wings and tells pilots how much lift a plane is getting. The information can be critical in preventing an aircraft from stalling.
The plane’s flight data recorder showed that pilots had repeatedly tried to correct its nose from pointing down, possibly after erroneous data from AoA sensors was fed into a system that automatically adjusts some of its movements, according to Reuters.
The Lion Air crash was the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing all 162 people on board.