JAKARTA - The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) of an Indonesian passenger aircraft that plunged into the Java Sea in January has been found and is expected to help investigators understand the sequence of events that led to the fatal accident.
The plane crashed into the sea shortly after take off on Jan 9, killing all 62 people aboard.
Preliminary investigations by the country's National Transport Safety Commission (KNKT) that were disclosed to the public in February revealed there was a problem with the throttle control system of the 27-year-old Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500.
Unequal engine thrust can cause a plane to roll onto its side and abruptly nosedive; but KNKT's senior investigator Captain Nurcahyo said a throttle problem alone would not have caused the crash.
The plane had experienced problems with its automatic throttle system on two previous flights - on Jan 3 and Jan 4 - but the issues were fixed.
The initial investigation looked for answers in the flight data recorder (FDR) since at the time, the CVR was buried under thick mud on the seabed and was yet to be located.
"It was found at 8pm last night at a spot not far from where we retrieved the FDR," transport minister Budi Karya Sumadi told a press briefing on Wednesday (March 31).
"Data from the FDR combined with information from the CVR would make investigations plenary (complete), as from the CVR we could listen to the conversation between pilot and co-pilot," he said.
The CVR could also help determine why flight parameters - including altitude and direction - were changed and yield key information about what happened in the cockpit during the flight.
The plane took off in the afternoon of Jan 9 from Indonesia's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on the outskirts of Jakarta. It was to fly to Pontianak, the provincial capital of West Kalimantan.
The Sriwijaya Air jet disappeared from the radar four minutes after take-off.
KNKT chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said in the same press briefing: "We will bring the CVR to our lab and have a readout, which will take three days to a week.
"Then we will try to match the information from the CVR to that from the FDR and further analyse the data (previously) obtained from the FDR, as well as examine the situation in the cockpit (prior to the crash)."