the second black box found

AFP, published on Wednesday March 31, 2021 at 5:58 p.m.

Indonesian authorities announced on Wednesday that they had found the second black box of the Sriwijaya Air Boeing which crashed off Indonesia in January and whose 62 passengers and crew were killed.

This black box (CVR), which contains recordings of conversations with the crew and with the control tower, appears to be in good condition, authorities said. It could provide key elements to understand why the aircraft disappeared a few minutes after taking off from Jakarta.

The Boeing 737-500 plunged some 3,000 meters in less than a minute on January 9 in the Java Sea.

There were 50 passengers, including 10 children and the 12 crew members, in the aircraft bound for Pontianak, a town on the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.After weeks of research, the black box was discovered Tuesday evening by a dredger in the mud covering the seabed off Jakarta, Indonesian authorities said during a press conference.

– A needle in a haystack –

“It was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of the Indonesian Transport Security Agency.

“Without the CVR, it would have been very difficult to find the cause of the crash of (the plane of) Sriwijaya Air,” he said.

The recorder, in a red metal shell, was shown to reporters at the port of Jakarta in a box containing sea water.

The device appears to be in good condition. “We are confident that we can extract the data from it,” the officials said in another online briefing.

The CVR should be forwarded to a laboratory, which should read the recordings and provide a transcript to investigators.

According to a preliminary report by the Indonesian Transport Safety Agency published in February, an “anomaly” of the autothrottles, which manage the Boeing’s thrust, has been detected.

The aircraft’s maintenance documents show that the autothrottles were reported to have been faulty and repaired twice in January before the crash.

But other factors are also examined, including a possible piloting error.

The crew had not issued a warning or reported a technical problem before the tragedy and the device was probably intact when it dived in the water, according to investigators.

The agency described communications with air traffic controllers as normal until the aircraft deviated significantly from its path.

– Experienced commander –

The crew, headed by an experienced captain, then did not respond to repeated questions from the control tower for an as yet unknown reason.

The relatively small area where debris was found and information from one of the black boxes shows that the reactors were still operating at the time of impact.

The first black box, containing data from the equipment on board, was discovered shortly after the accident. But the search took much longer to find the second black box, which had lost its beacon, on the seabed.

Divers recovered a large amount of debris and 59 of the 62 victims were identified through human remains.

The 26-year-old aircraft had previously been used by US carriers Continental Airlines and United Airlines.

This accident is the first fatal involving the Indonesian regional company Sriwijaya Air since its inception in 2013.

But the airline industry in Indonesia has seen regular tragedies in recent years.

In October 2018, 189 people died in a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX crash that also crashed into the Java Sea, twelve minutes after taking off from Jakarta.

Sriwijaya Air’s plane does not belong to the controversial new generation of the Boeing 737 MAX but is a “classic” Boeing 737.

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