Lion Air crash: Divers racing against time in search of cockpit voice recorder

The cockpit voice recorder, whose battery has a limited lifespan, is now the focus of search efforts at the crash site in waters off Karawang regency in West Java.
The cockpit voice recorder, whose battery has a limited lifespan, is now the focus of search efforts at the crash site in waters off Karawang regency in West Java.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA - The clock is ticking for divers looking for the cockpit voice recorder, or "the other black box", of the downed Lion Air plane, as the battery powering its signal has a limited lifespan following a crash.

"The battery lasts only 30 days, so we have to work faster to find the other black box," said National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) air crash investigator Ony Suryo Wibowo on Friday (Nov 2).

Search teams scouring the depths of the Java Sea on Thursday recovered the flight data recorder (FDR) from a partial wreckage of Flight JT610 after it disappeared from radar and crashed on Monday with 189 people on board.

The FDR is just one of two "black boxes" in passenger aircraft. The other is the cockpit voice recorder, or CVR. Both are required on commercial aircraft, and are usually kept in the tail section of a plane like the Boeing 737 Max-8 used in Monday's ill-fated flight.

The CVR is now the focus of search efforts at the crash site in waters off Karawang regency in West Java, said Indonesian navy Colonel Johan Wahyudi, who heads the team of divers in the operation.

"We will also start evacuating parts of the plane that are larger in size - those with 100kg, 1 tonne in weight - using equipment we have now prepared," he told local radio station Elshinta in a live interview on Friday, ahead of the search operation, now into its fifth day.

"Today, divers will continue to pick up whatever debris they can individually carry and mark on the heavy debris for follow-up recovery later today using heavy equipment," he added.

 

A total of 52 divers are going on the mission under Col Johan's command.

Dive teams operate in pairs and spend a maximum of about 28 minutes before they have to resurface.

Four days after the crash, civil servant Jannatun Cintya Dewi, 24, remains the only victim to be identified.

No new identifications have been made as of Friday morning, police told reporters, adding that 65 body bags have been received so far.