Divers have retrieved the crashed AirAsia plane’s second black box from the bottom of the Java Sea, giving investigators the essential tools they need to start piecing together what brought Flight 8501 down.
Senior Transportation Ministry official Tonny Budiono said the trapped cockpit voice recorder was freed from beneath heavy wreckage at a depth of about 30 metres (100ft), a day after the aircraft’s flight data recorder was recovered.
It will be flown to the capital Jakarta to be downloaded and analysed with the other box. Since it records in a two-hour loop, all discussions between the captain and co-pilot during the 42-minute journey should be available.
The Airbus A320, which was flying from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore, crashed on December 28, killing all 162 people on board.
“Thank God,” Mr Budiono, the ministry’s sea navigation director, said. “This is good news for investigators to reveal the cause of the plane crash.”
The find is the latest boost in the slow-moving hunt to scour the shallow, murky stretch of ocean.
Over the weekend the tail of the aircraft was recovered, emblazoned with the carrier’s red-and-white cursive logo. The black boxes are housed inside the tail, but were missing when the wreckage was pulled to the surface.
The devices were soon located after three Indonesian ships detected two strong pings being emitted from their beacons, about 20 metres apart. Strong currents, large waves and blinding silt have hindered divers’ efforts throughout the 17-day search, but they took advantage of calmer early morning conditions on both days to extract the instruments.
Designed to survive extreme heat and pressure, the black boxes – which are actually orange – should provide a second-by-second timeline of the flight.