ASIA

Indonesian divers retrieve cockpit voice recorder from AirAsia jet

Part of crashed jet's black box found by divers after more than two weeks of searching

Indonesian navy divers retrieved the cockpit voice recorder from the crashed AirAsia jet, officials said Tuesday, as experts prepared to analyze the aircraft’s “black box” devices for clues to the accident.

The flight data recorder was sent Monday to Jakarta to be analyzed, hours after search teams pulled the device from the bottom of the Java Sea. The cockpit recorder was found nearby and was being brought to shore by a navy vessel, a transport ministry official told Indonesia’s Metro TV.

Officials said the recorders would be opened and their data studied by Indonesian transport authorities as well as experts from Singapore and France, home to Airbus, the aircraft’s manufacturer.

Recovery teams detected a signal from the voice recorder that was about 20 yards from the spot where the data recorder was found early Monday and hoisted to the surface by divers.

Air Commodore Suryadi Supriyadi, the search operations director, said the voice recorder was stuck underneath a large piece of wreckage, believed to be a wing.

The retrieval of the devices was a breakthrough in the long, rain-delayed search for the submerged wreckage of the Airbus A320 jet, which crashed Dec. 28 in a thunderstorm with 162 passengers and crew members.

The head of the National Transport Safety Committee, Tatang Kurniadi, said he believed that the flight data recorder was in good condition. The orange device, encased in gray metal, was due to be analyzed at the committee’s lab in Jakarta as early as Monday evening.

“It will take one to three days to download it, but it will take some time to read the data,” Kurniadi said.

The committee has experience analyzing black boxes, he said, having opened more than 100 of the devices.

Investigators say the black boxes will help determine why Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed midway through a two-hour flight from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. The pilot, an air force veteran, radioed air traffic controllers asking to raise his altitude to avoid storm clouds, but the request was denied because of other planes in the area.

The plane lost radar contact minutes later and plunged into the waters off Borneo island, where search crews found it two days later.

Search teams have struggled through monsoon weather and murky waters to find wreckage and bodies, many believed to be entombed in the fuselage of the jet. Of the 48 bodies that have been recovered, 34 have been identified.

Special correspondent Pathoni reported from Jakarta and staff writer Bengali from Mumbai, India.

For the latest on AirAsia Flight 8501, follow @SBengali on Twitter.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

7:22 p.m.: This story has been updated with information about retrieval of the cockpit voice recorder.

This story was originally published at 4:10 a.m.

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