First Black Box Is Recovered From AirAsia Plane


A portion of the tail of AirAsia Flight 8501 in Kumai Port, near Pangkalan Bun in Indonesia. 
  Credit Darren Whiteside/Reuters        

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian Navy divers on Monday retrieved one of the so-called black boxes from the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late last month and were trying to recover the other one amid strong underwater currents and limited visibility, officials said.

The flight data recorder was found on Monday morning under debris from the Airbus A320-200, including its wings, at a depth of about 100 feet, said Henry Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.

“The recorder has already been evacuated to a ship” and will be transferred to Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, for examination by the National Transportation Safety Committee, he said.

The recorder was found about half a mile from the tail section, which was located on Wednesday, said S. B. Supriyadi, director of operations for the search and rescue agency.

Later in the morning, divers pinpointed the location of the second black box, the cockpit voice recorder, about 60 feet from where the data recorder was found and were working to retrieve it, said Mardjono Siswosuwarno, head investigator at the transportation safety committee.

The plane, flying as Flight 8501, crashed on Dec. 28 less than an hour after taking off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya with 162 people aboard, bound for Singapore. As of Monday, search teams had recovered 48 bodies, 32 of which have been identified.

The cause of the crash remains unclear, although weather has been cited as a probable factor. Officials have said they hope the data recorders will help explain the crash of the Airbus, which lost contact with ground control after requesting permission to increase altitude.

Search ships first picked up pinging believed to be from the black boxes on Thursday. The ships then began triangulating the pinging to narrow down the location of the recorders, Mr. Soelistyo said.

After battling severe currents and poor visibility for two days, divers successfully raised the tail section on Saturday using special lifting balloons and a crane attached to a ship but did not find the black boxes inside.

The safety record of Indonesia’s commercial aviation industry has come under scrutiny after the disaster, one of several airline crashes in the past decade.

In an interview on Sunday, Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, said he was confident that the country would make any needed improvements to the industry.

“This is the moment to totally reform our air transportation,” he said.

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