Search teams found the black box from the crashed AirAsia Bhd. jetliner, which will help investigators unlock how QZ8501 plunged into the Java Sea with 162 people on board.
Divers identified the location of the black box and marked the area for retrieval, Transport Ministry spokesman J.A. Barata said today, without specifying the exact location. The cockpit- voice recorder and flight-data recorder are together known as the black box.
The development should help answer why the Airbus Group NV A320 plane crashed en route to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia. Investigators use information from black boxes to reconstruct the final moments before a crash and sometimes come up with recommendations to prevent other disasters.
“The black box records critical aircraft flight parameters,” said Mark D. Martin, chief executive officer of Dubai-based Martin Consulting LLC. “This will be vital in understanding what happened during the last crucial moments of the flight.”
Flying at 32,000 feet, the plane’s pilot had asked to rise to a higher altitude, citing clouds, officials have said. By the time air traffic controllers responded some two minutes later there was no reply from the plane. There were storms along the plane’s flight path, yet other planes managed to fly through the same area at the same time without incident.
Search teams looking for the black box deployed side-scan sonar, pinger locators and divers after finding the tail on Jan. 7. The black boxes, which are encased in bright orange to facilitate their retrieval, are waterproof, fortified and designed to emit an electronic signal underwater for 30 days to help searchers find them.
Safety advocates have been pushing for years to improve black boxes by enabling them to float and stream data to ground stations in real time. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board held a forum in October on the subject, and “is currently exploring what the next steps might be,” including possible safety recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration, Peter Knudson, an NTSB spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
A spate of crashes in the past decade prompted Indonesia in 2008 to amend laws and boost plane-safety checks after the European Union imposed a ban on its carriers from flying to Europe. The ban has been partially lifted since then.
Indonesia had 3.77 fatal accidents for every 1 million takeoffs in the three years ended March 31, London-based aviation adviser Ascend said in 2007. The global rate was 0.25 then.
–With assistance from Jeremy Hodges in London and Rieka Rahadiana in Jakarta.
This article was written by Harry Suhartono and Anurag Kotoky from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.