Search teams looking for the crashed AirAsia Bhd. jetliner’s black box will deploy side-scan sonar and pinger locaters after inclement weather off Indonesia’s coast yesterday hindered efforts to recover bodies and the plane’s fuselage.

The international team has set 1,575 square nautical miles as the most likely area to find the plane wreckage, Malaysia’s Navy Chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar said today in a Twitter post. Three ships will be used to seek the sound emitted by the cockpit- voice recorder and flight-data recorder, together known as the black box.

Bad weather is expected to persist through Jan. 4, Indonesia search and rescue agency chief Bambang Sulistyo said at a briefing last night in Jakarta. Singapore will lend Indonesia a device to detect metal under water, he said.

Divers, helicopters, planes and ships have scoured the Java Sea for five days for the remains of Flight 8501 in a search that has so far yielded nine bodies. The black box of the Airbus Group NV jet has eluded recovery efforts near Pangkalan Bun, about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of Singapore. Parts of the plane were identified after sonar contact at 24 meters (79 feet) under water, according to Hadi Tjahjanto, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Air Force.

Recovering the fuselage and black box of the A320 plane that went down with 162 people on board could help answer why the six-year-old aircraft on a routine commercial flight to Singapore from Surabaya in Indonesia crashed on Dec. 28. Flying at 32,000 feet, the pilot asked to move to a higher altitude, citing clouds, officials have said.

‘Abnormal Situation’

An ‘‘abnormal situation occurred’’ at that height, said AirNav Indonesia, the nation’s air-navigation operator.

More than 90 vessels and aircraft have been involved in the operation that has so far found objects including what appears to be an emergency door and an evacuation slide.

“I am hoping that the latest information is correct and aircraft has been found,” AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes said yesterday in a Twitter post. “Please all hope together. This is so important.”

The recovery effort will involve salvaging large pieces of the plane, engines, landing gear and other wreckage requiring heavy-duty lifting capability. The parts will then be pieced together for the investigation. Indonesia has sent a tanker to help, Sulistyo said.

–With assistance from Herdaru Purnomo in Surabaya, Rieka Rahadiana, Andrew Janes and Neil Chatterjee in Jakarta and Eko Listiyorini in Pangkalan Bun.

To contact the reporters on this story: Niluksi Koswanage in Kuala Lumpur at; Yudith Ho in Jakarta at; Fathiya Dahrul in Jakarta at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anand Krishnamoorthy at 

Photo Credit: The Malaysian Navy's map of the crash site.