Second black box retrieved
PANGKALAN BUN, INDONESIA
INDONESIAN divers retrieved the cockpit voice recorder yesterday from beneath the wreckage of an AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea, as the airline's boss vowed to overcome the "toughest times" he has known.
It came a day after the plane's other black box, the flight data recorder, was recovered.
The cockpit voice recorder, which retains the last two hours of conversation between the pilots and with air traffic controllers, was found close to where the flight data recorder was recovered from the bottom of the Java Sea on Monday.
It took longer to retrieve as it was trapped under heavy wreckage. The devices, which are actually orange, should give investigators vital information about what caused the accident.
The National Transport Safety Committee said the boxes would undergo a lengthy analysis in the capital after the data is downloaded, which would take about a week. French experts from Airbus were in Jakarta to help with the analysis, and experts from other countries whose citizens were involved in the crash would also assist.
The committee has said a preliminary report on the accident will be produced within a month, and a final report after a year.
Flight QZ8501 went down on Dec 28 in stormy weather as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, with 162 people on board. Just 48 bodies have been recovered so far, with many believed to be in the main section of the fuselage, which has not been found.
Indonesia's meteorological agency has said bad weather likely caused the Airbus A320-200 to crash, but a definitive answer is impossible without the data recorders.
The accident is the first major setback for Malaysia-based AirAsia, which has enjoyed a 13-year run of success. In a message to customers, flamboyant boss Tony Fernandes said "the past few weeks have been the most difficult weeks of my life since starting AirAsia".
But he pledged to get through the crisis. "Even in our toughest times, we will continue to be the world's best and be better for you."
In another positive development for the investigation, divers spotted one of the aircraft's engines yesterday, which has a control unit that records data about performance, said Nurcahyo Utomo from the committee.
"If something is wrong with the engine, or weird, it will be recorded," he said.
The authorities said the focus is now on finding the main body of the aircraft, although Mr Utomo said he believed it had broken into pieces.
Officials have said the rapid change in pressure as the plane fell into the sea may have caused it to "explode" on impact with the water.