Indonesian Divers Recover AirAsia Voice Recorder

PLANE-articleLargeJAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian search teams on Tuesday retrieved the second of the so-called black boxes from the AirAsia crash in the Java Sea and also located the aircraft’s fuselage, officials said, as they began a new phase of the operation aimed at determining what happened to the plane and recovering the bodies of more victims.

Tatang Kurniadi, head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, said the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, which was brought up by navy divers on Tuesday morning from around 100 feet beneath the Java Sea, would be flown to Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, for analysis.

“I am thankful to the divers; you guys are great,” Mr. Tatang told journalists at a search operations center in the city of Pangkalan Bun, in Central Kalimantan Province, after returning by helicopter Tuesday evening from a vessel carrying the voice recorder to shore.

“You have answered the world’s challenge,” he said, adding that the voice recorder was intact.

On Monday, divers recovered the plane’s other black box, the flight data recorder, which is now being analyzed in Jakarta.

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GRAPHIC

Where AirAsia Flight 8501 Was Lost and Debris Found

Maps of the flight path, air traffic near the plane when it disappeared and where debris was found.

OPEN GRAPHIC

The recorders, which were originally housed in the airliner’s tail section and were missing for two weeks after the crash on Dec. 28, were located by homing in on their automatic signals. They were found on a muddy seabed about half a mile from the tail wreckage, beneath other debris from the plane, including its wings, the authorities said.

S. B. Supriyadi, director of operations for the National Search and Rescue Agency, said the second black box had been “sandwiched” between portions of the aircraft’s wings, about 60 feet from where the first one was retrieved.

The fuselage was 1.7 nautical miles from the spot where the tail section of the Airbus A320-200 was recovered on Saturday, Mr. Supriyadi said.

Flight 8501 crashed less than an hour after taking off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya with 162 people aboard, bound for Singapore. As of Tuesday, search teams had recovered 48 bodies.

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Aboard AirAsia Flight 8501

The airline said in a statement that the flight was carrying 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant, as well as a crew of seven, including two pilots. Here is how they break down by nationality.

  • 155 Indonesians:
    • One was the pilot, Iriyanto. AirAsia said he had 20,537 hours’ flying experience, including 6,100 with AirAsia.
    • He was described as a fan of motorcycles and a devoted member of his local mosque.
    • His younger brother had died recently.
  • 3 South Koreans:
    The Telegraph newspaper of England reported that the three were a family of Christian missionaries from a fishing village.
  • 1 Briton:
    BBC said Choi Chi-man, a British businessman based in Hong Kong, was on the flight.
    • He was reportedly traveling with his two-year-old daughter Zoe, whose nationality was not immediately clear.
  • 1 Frenchman
    • France’s Foreign Ministry said the flight’s copilot was a French citizen.
    News reports said his name was Rémi Emmanuel Plesel.
    • AirAsia said he had 2,275 hours’ flying experience with the airline.
  • 1 Malaysian
  • 1 Singaporean

“We predict that there are still many bodies trapped inside” the fuselage, Mr. Supriyadi told reporters in Pangkalan Bun.

Indonesian officials have said that recovering the bodies of all the victims, or as many as possible, is of the highest priority.

The cause of the crash remains unclear, though weather has been cited as a probable factor. Officials have said they hope the black boxes will explain the crash of the plane, which lost contact with controllers after requesting permission to increase altitude.

Investigators from the Transportation Safety Committee, assisted by investigators from France, were expected to finish downloading information from the flight data recorder on Tuesday, said Mardjono Siswosuwarno, the committee’s lead investigator.

He said it would take up to two weeks to convert the numerical data into charts and tables that could be analyzed for clues. He said the data included the plane’s flight parameters, altitude, direction and speed, as well as measurements of the outside wind speed and turbulence.

Officials have said that since the cockpit voice recorder runs on a two-hour loop, they expect to hear all conversations between the plane’s pilot and co-pilot during the flight.

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