The cockpit voice recorder from a Lion Air jet that crashed last October has been recovered, Indonesian authorities said Monday, a discovery that could be critical to establishing why the brand new plane fell out of the sky shortly after take-off.
The Boeing 737 Max vanished from radar about 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta, slamming into the Java Sea moments after pilots had asked to return to the capital and killing all 189 people onboard.
Haryo Satmiko, deputy head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC), told AFP the box had been recovered early Monday morning.
Investigators have already recovered the flight data recorder from the Boeing 737 Max, which provided information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane before it plunged into the sea on October 29.
The preliminary crash report from Indonesia's transport safety agency suggested that pilots of Flight 610 struggled to control the plane's anti-stalling system immediately before the crash.
Investigators also found that the Lion Air jet should have been grounded over a recurrent technical problem before its fatal journey, but did not pinpoint a cause of for the accident.
A final crash report is not likely to be filed until later this year.
The bright orange voice recorder was discovered about 10 metres from the plane’s data recorder, said Isswarto, the commander of the navy’s Lion Air search and rescue task force.
- Boeing lawsuits -
Despite the name, black boxes are usually bright orange with reflective stripes, and all commercial planes are obliged to have them on board.
They're built to survive at vast depths and in extreme heat, and are fitted with a beacon which can emit a signal for one month.
Black box data help explain nearly 90 percent of all crashes, according to aviation experts.
Authorities called off the grim task of identifying victims of the crash in November, with only 125 people officially identified after tests on human remains that filled some 200 body bags.
Following requests from victims' families, Lion said in December it would allocate 38 billion rupiah ($2.6 million) to hire a Dutch company to continue the search with its ship the MPV Everest.
Nearly 30 relatives of the crash victims have filed lawsuits against Boeing, alleging faults with the new model 737 MAX led to the deaths.
The single-aisle Boeing plane is one of the world's newest and most advanced commercial passenger jets.
After investigators said the doomed aircraft had problems with its airspeed indicator and angle of attack (AoA) sensors, Boeing to issue a special bulletin telling operators what to do when they face the same situation.
An AOA sensor provides data about the angle at which air is passing over the wings and tells pilots how much lift a plane is getting. The information can be critical in preventing an aircraft from stalling.
The plane's flight data recorder showed that pilots had repeatedly tried to correct its nose from pointing down, possibly after erroneous data from AoA sensors was fed into a system that automatically adjusts some of its movements.