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Flight data recorder recovered in Indonesia jet crash

Flight data recorder recovered in Indonesia jet crash
© Getty Images

Navy divers recovered the flight data recorder from a downed Indonesian jet on Tuesday with authorities hoping it will help explain what sent the plane with 62 people aboard into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff.

Divers brought the flight data recorder, known as one of the black boxes, from the ocean floor where it was buried in seabed mud under other debris from Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, The Associated Press reported that navy Chief Adm. Yudo Margono said. Tuesday’s recovery operation involved at least 160 divers.

Military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said the other black box, the cockpit voice recorder, was expected to be recovered soon because its signal came from the same area. The black boxes were located Sunday using emergency signals that a navy ship’s sonar received that aligned with the last contact pilots made before the flight’s disappearance.

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The search has used more than 3,6000 rescue personnel, 13 helicopters, 54 large ships and 20 small ships to find parts of the plane and human remains at about 75 feet below the surface, officials said.

At least 74 body bags including human remains have been sent to identification experts, and at least four victims have been identified, according to the AP.

The Boeing 737-500 took off from Jakarta during heavy rain and lost contact about four minutes after departing on its way to Pontianak. Flight 182 had held 12 crew members and 50 passengers, including three babies and seven other children. All were Indonesian. 

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee declared that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) would also investigate the disaster. NTSC Chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono concluded that the plane was intact until it hit the water by analyzing the scope of the debris field, according to the AP.

The 26-year-old airplane had not been used for almost nine months amid coronavirus travel restrictions but was deemed airworthy in mid-December after an inspection. 

The jet had restarted commercial flights after a test flight without passengers in mid-December and had flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang city on the same day as the crash. Flight 182 had been delayed about an hour before its departure due to bad weather but no mechanical issues.

The crash comes after a Boeing 737 Max jet flying on Lion Air crashed in Indonesia in 2018, killing all 189 people aboard, and months later, another 737 Max plummeted in Ethiopia. The crashes prompted Boeing to ground the jet for 20 months.

The flight that went down over the weekend did not have the automated flight-control system that contributed to the Boeing 737 Max crashes.