Indonesian officials say divers have recovered the data recorder of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, which crashed when en route from Surabaya to Singapore just over two weeks ago.
The head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Bambang Soelistyo, said teams were still looking for the plane’s cockpit voice recorder.
There were 162 people on board Flight QZ8501 when it crashed in bad weather about 40 minutes after take-off on December 28. Only 48 bodies have been recovered from the Java Sea. Thirty-two of them have been identified.
It is hoped that analysis of data on the flight recorder will reveal what caused the crash.
If the data is secure, investigators will have information about altitude, airspeed, and flight direction. Flight data recorders can also monitor the fuel gauge, the operation of the auto-pilot, and actions such as the movement of individual flaps on the wings.
Speaking in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Bambang Soelistyo told reporters: “I received information from the National Transport Safety Committee chief that at 07:11 a.m. (00:11 GMT), we succeeded in bringing up part of the black box that we call the flight data recorder.
“What we are still trying to find is the cockpit voice recorder.”
The black box flight recorders are usually housed inside a plane’s tail section. They contain underwater locator beacons that emit pings for at least 30 days.
On Saturday, the tail section of the Airbus A320-200 was brought to the surface, but it was badly broken up, and the flight recorder was not inside it, as had been hoped. It was then located yesterday, but was wedged under wreckage.
Investigators believe most of the bodies of the victims of the crash are trapped in the plane’s main fuselage, which has not yet been found.
The CEO of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, said again on Twitter yesterday that his main concern was finding the fuselage of the plane.
It was initially believed that the wreckage detected by a sonar scan yesterday was the fuselage, but divers have identified it as a wing of the plane and debris from the engine. The data recorder was found under a part of the wing.
Indonesia’s meteorological agency has said weather was the “triggering factor” in the crash, but it did add that this was just one of the possibilities.
It said the most probable weather phenomenon was icing which can cause engine damage due to a cooling process.
There was a request from the pilot, Captain Iriyanto, before the crash to be allowed to fly higher to avoid storm clouds. No distress signal was received.
The search for bodies and wreckage has been hampered by very bad weather and diving conditions are reported to be becoming unfavourable again today.