Indonesia temporarily halts search for crashed jet's recorder

Indonesian Navy personnel move a plastic container carrying a black box of the crashed Sriwijaya Air plane on Jan 12, 2021.
Indonesian Navy personnel move a plastic container carrying a black box of the crashed Sriwijaya Air plane on Jan 12, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA • Indonesia temporarily suspended a search by divers for the cockpit voice recorder of a Sriwijaya Air plane that crashed with 62 people on board.

The search in the Java Sea had to be halted due to bad weather that whipped up waves of up to 2.5m, officials said yesterday.

Earlier yesterday, divers retrieved more debris and a damaged identity card of one of the victims, navy official Abdul Rasyid told reporters.

Divers retrieved the plane's flight data recorder (FDR) from the seabed on Tuesday, and officials said they had also found the beacon that was attached to the cockpit voice recorder (CVR).

A remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) will be deployed to scour the seabed, Mr Abdul said, adding that the search had been made more complicated because no pings were now being emitted after the beacon detached from the CVR.

"We have the ROV that will confirm the location again, and tomorrow we will dive and comb that location again," he said.

Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said he had "high confidence" about finding the recorder soon.

The Boeing 737-500 jet crashed into the Java Sea on Saturday, four minutes after take-off from Jakarta's main airport.

Investigators will rely heavily on the two black boxes to determine the cause of the crash. Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) expects to download the FDR data in two to five days.

The FDR has about 25 hours of data, and the CVR has 30 minutes of conversation, according to a report on a similar model of a Boeing 737 that crashed in 2008.

A team from the United States National Transportation Safety Board will travel to Jakarta in the coming days to help with the investigation.

The KNKT's initial findings showed the plane's engine was running when it hit the water, based on the damage seen on jet parts retrieved from the sea.

Indonesia's Transport Ministry said the plane had passed an airworthiness inspection on Dec 14 last year and returned to service shortly after.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2021, with the headline 'Indonesia temporarily halts search for crashed jet's recorder'. Subscribe