With black box damaged, Indonesia searches for Lion Air cockpit recorder

Indonesian authorities said they would immediately begin examining a damaged black box retrieved on Thursday from the sunken wreckage of a Lion Air jet that crashed off Jakarta this week, killing all 189 people on board.

Satmiko said the base-plate of the box had been torn away in the crash, giving further evidence of how hard the plane hit the water.

"The section is most likely the flight data recorder", the search agency said in a statement, citing Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee Chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono.

Divers were being deployed to the site of a 72ft-long object detected 105ft underwater. "We shouldn't have any such accidents in the future".

Divers plucked the orange data recorder from the ocean and placing it in a plastic tub as search teams continued to scour the seabed for the fuselage of the Boeing-737 MAX 8, which crashed off Indonesia's northern coast on Monday and had only been in service a few months.

Although the sea floor is only about 30 metres down, strong currents and energy pipelines in the area have hampered search efforts.

The pilot of that flight after taking off from Denpasar, Bali island, on Sunday made a distress call, but after the plane started behaving normally, he chose to continue to Jakarta, the destination of the flight, landing there at 10.55 pm local time. The report on the Air Asia flight crash was out almost a year later.

KNKT had earlier said the plane encountered a problem during its previous flight, but Lion Air chief executive Edward Sirait claimed that the issue was already resolved and the plane was declared fit to fly.

Navy colonel Monang Sitompul said what is believed to the aircraft's fuselage was also seen on the seafloor.

The transport safety committee said on Friday it interviewed the crew of the flight that operated the aircraft from Bali to Jakarta the day before the crash and was also gathering data from a military radar outside the national capital, it said.

The accident is the first to be reported involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's single-aisle jet.

Another official, Muhammad Syaugi, said part of the plane's landing gear had been found, AFP news agency reports.

Search teams have been recovering personal effects and separating human remains from plane debris, sending the body parts - including from an infant - to hospital for DNA testing. "We recited every prayer we knew". It did not say how many technicians had been suspended. On Thursday, the ministry ordered the suspension of Lion Air managers in charge of quality control, fleet maintenance and an engineer who cleared flight JT610.

Boeing Co. experts are expected to arrive in Indonesia on Wednesday and Lion Air has said an "intense" internal investigation is underway in addition to the probe by safety regulators. "If there is an anomaly, some technical problem, it is recorded there too".

Lion Air said the aircraft that crashed had been airworthy and the pilot and co-pilot had 11,000 hours of flying time between them. However, the country's terrain, thunderstorms and underdeveloped infrastructure also posed challenges to airline safety.

  • Joey Payne