JAKARTA: Indonesian officials said Tuesday that navy divers had recovered the flight data recorder of the Sriwijaya Air plane, Flight SJ182, that crashed in the Java Sea, killing all 62 people on board.
“The navy chief of staff reported to me at 4:40 p.m. that the flight data recorder and two underwater acoustic beacons (had been recovered). This means that we still need to look for the cockpit voice recorder without (signals from) the beacon,” Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces Hadi Tjahjanto said in a press conference.
“We are highly confident that we will soon find the cockpit voice recorder in the location where the beacon was found,” he added.
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder of an aircraft, known as black boxes, should contain crucial data and information on why the plane suddenly nosedived into the sea.
The flight data recorder recovered from the Boeing 737-300 aircraft was handed over to the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT), which will conduct the investigation with the assistance of the US’ National Transportation Safety Board.
KNKT Chief Soerjanto Tjahyono said the two beacons were detached from the flight data recorder.
“It would take two to five days to download data from the flight data recorder, from which we hope to be able to determine the cause why this crash happened,” Tjahjono said.
On Monday, Tjahjono said in a statement that based on preliminary data collected from the air traffic controller, the plane flew to 10,900 feet at 2:40 p.m. before it nosedived, and was last recorded at 250 feet, indicating that the plane’s engine system was functioning and was able to send data.
“From this data, we presume that the engine was still running before it hit the water,” Tjahjono said, adding that the wreckage is dispersed across an area of about 100 meters wide and 300 to 400 meters long, which makes it consistent with the presumption that the plane was intact before it hit the sea surface.
A total of four victims have been identified so far, including Okky Bisma, one of the plane’s cabin crew, whose wife is also a flight attendant with the same airline, police officials said.
“We have identified three more bodies today and received 111 DNA samples, and 72 bodybags so far,” police spokesman Rusdi Hartono said.
Flight SJ182 went missing four minutes after it took off at 2:36 p.m. local time from Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta. Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said air traffic controllers saw it disappear from the radar within seconds after asking the cockpit to report its position because the radar showed it was flying in the wrong direction.
The regular domestic flight was heading north to Pontianak, the provincial capital of West Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, which borders Malaysia’s Sarawak state.
The 26-year-old plane crashed in the Java Sea, in the waters between Lancang Island and Laki Island, which are part of a small archipelago of about 100 small islands collectively known as the Seribu Islands north of Jakarta.