Lion Air Crash: Divers Retrieve Flight Data Recorder From Sea Floor

Nov 1, 2018

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Indonesian search-and-rescue divers retrieved the flight data recorder on Thursday from the crashed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which plummeted into the Java Sea on Monday.

The recorder, also known as a black box, from downed flight JT610 will help investigators learn why the two-month-old passenger plane suddenly crashed. Flight tracking sites show the flight was experiencing erratic speed and altitude changes in the moments before plunging into the water, killing all 189 people on board. The recorder will shed more light on these details. Teams are still working to locate the cockpit voice recorder, another device that will provide regulators with insight into what the pilots were saying and any revealing noises in the aircraft’s final moments.

This picture from Indonesia media agency "detikcom" shows officials displaying part of the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610's black box, an FDR (flight data recorder), after it was recovered from the Java Sea, during search operations in the waters off Karawang on November 1, 2018. - One black box from the crashed Lion Air jet has been recovered, the head of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee said on November 1, which could be critical to establishing why the brand new plane fell out of the sky. (Photo by Pradita UTAMA / DETIKCOM / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Pradita UTAMA has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [adding Source: Indonesia media company "detikcom"]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read PRADITA UTAMA/AFP/Getty Images)Searchers had picked up the black box’s steady pings and located the recorder on Wednesday, but strong undersea currents had prevented divers from retrieving the crucial object. On Thursday, search-and-rescue divers were able to withstand the unfavorable conditions and bring the bright orange object to the surface.

“I was desperate because the current below was strong, but I am confident of the tools given to me,” Indonesian Navy diver Sgt. Hendra, who uses a single name, told local TV reporters, according to the AP. Sgt. Hendra zeroed in on the recorder’s possible location, and he “started digging and cleaning the debris until I finally found an orange object.” The recorder was sitting 98 feet below the sea surface and about 1,640 feet from where the plane is believed to have plunged into the water.

Search-and-rescue operators believe that they have also located part of the main aircraft fuselage, which was missing for several days after the accident, despite smaller aircraft debris being found on the waters’ surface. Images of a 72-foot-long object was located with sonar on the sea floor Wednesday. On Thursday, divers said the fuselage was seen on the seabed in the vicinity of the flight recorder.

Experts from Boeing arrived in Indonesia on Wednesday to assist regulators with the investigation. The country’s transport ministry has also ordered that all 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Indonesia undergo safety inspection.

Monday’s crash was the second-worst fatal aviation incident in Indonesia’s history.

All images by PRADITA UTAMA/AFP/Getty Images.

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