AirAsia flight QZ8501: Flight data recorder retrieved; search underway for cockpit recorder

An Indonesian policeman watches from the air as the search operation in the Java sea goes underway. Indonesia's search and rescue agency said on Monday morning that search teams had managed to get part of the flight data recorder of the Indonesia Air
An Indonesian policeman watches from the air as the search operation in the Java sea goes underway. Indonesia's search and rescue agency said on Monday morning that search teams had managed to get part of the flight data recorder of the Indonesia AirAsia plane that crashed. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said on Monday morning that search teams had managed to retrieve the flight data recorder of the Indonesia AirAsia plane that crashed in the Java Sea.

“I received information from the National Transport Safety Committee (KNKT) chief that at 07.11am, we succeeded in bringing up part of the black box that we call the flight data recorder,” Basarnas chief Bambang Soelistyo told reporters.

The cockpit voice recorder has yet to be recovered, he added.

"We confirmed this as the object has a tag number and serial – PN-2100-4043-02 and serial number SN-000556583,’’ he told reporters. "Now we are trying to locate cockpit voice recorder."

Investigators have said the recorder would most likely be taken to the capital, Jakarta, for analysis and that it could take up to two weeks to download the data.

However, the information could be accessed in as little as two days if the devices are not badly damaged.Mr Soelistyo did not provide any details of the condition of the flight data recorder.Over the weekend, three vessels detected “pings” that were believed to be from the black boxes’ emergency locator transmitter. But strong winds, powerful currents and high waves hampered search efforts.Indonesian navy divers took advantage of calmer weather in the Java Sea on Monday to retrieve the flight recorder and search for the fuselage of the Airbus A320-200.Forty-eight bodies have been retrieved from the Java Sea and searchers believe more will be found in the plane’s fuselage.Relatives of the victims have urged the authorities to make finding the remains of their loved ones the priority. “All the ships, including the ships from our friends, will be deployed with the main task of searching for bodies that are still or suspected to still be trapped underwater,” Mr Soelistyo said, referring to the multinational force helping with the search and recovery effort.

Flight QZ8501 vanished from radar screens over the northern Java Sea on Dec 28, less than half-way into a two-hour flight from Indonesia’s second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore.

Indonesia AirAsia, 49 per cent owned by the Malaysia-based AirAsia budget group, has come under pressure from authorities in Jakarta since the crash.

The Transport Ministry has suspended the carrier’s Surabaya-Singapore licence for flying on a Sunday, for which it did not have permission. However, the ministry has said this had no bearing on the crash of Flight QZ8501.

President Joko Widodo said the crash exposed widespread problems in the management of air travel in Indonesia.Separately on Sunday, a DHC-6 Twin Otter operated by Indonesia’s Trigana Air crashed on landing at Enarotali Airport in Paniai, Papua.Strong winds caused the aircraft to roll over, domestic news website Detik.com reported, with no injuries to the three crew members on board. The plane was not carrying any passengers.

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