JAKARTA, Indonesia — Rescuers on Monday recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the Lion Air jet that crashed into the sea late last year, Indonesian officials said.
The data contained in the cockpit voice recorder, the second of the plane’s two “black box” recorders, is likely to bring investigators closer to finding out exactly what caused the almost-new Boeing jetliner to plunge into the water shortly after takeoff. The other, the flight data recorder, was found in November.
“The hydrography and oceanography center of the Indonesian navy, assisted by the National Transportation Safety Committee, discovered the cockpit voice recorder,” said Rear Adm. Harjo Susmoro, head of the Indonesian navy’s Hydrography and Oceanography Center. The recorder was found around 9:15 a.m. local time by a navy diver, officials added.
Harjo told The Washington Post that the recorder was found 108 feet under the sea. Despite stormy weather, a team of rescuers sifted through the mud to find the small bright-orange device buried under the seabed. They also found human remains and bones during the search, officials said. Strong currents in the Java Sea had complicated the search, as had the intensity of the crash, which scattered the plane’s wreckage all over the deep waters off the coast near Jakarta.
The search for the recorder had stopped briefly before resuming Tuesday. Soerjanto Tjahjono, who heads Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, said in a news conference Monday evening that the recorder will have to be dried and cleaned before data can be extracted from it.
“We hope that the process takes three to five days for everything to be downloaded,” he said.
The cockpit voice recorder is in good condition with just scratches on it, officials added.
Lion Air Flight 610 plunged into the Java Sea on Oct. 29, just 13 minutes after taking off from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, killing the eight crew members and 181 passengers on board, including a child and two infants. The jet was only about two months old.
Investigators have narrowed in on a theory that a malfunctioning sensor and an automated response from the aircraft’s software — a feature of the new Boeing 737 Max 8 — stymied pilots’ efforts to control the flight. An “angle-of-attack” sensor, which measures where the plane’s nose was pointing, was showing erroneous readings throughout the short flight.
Information from the flight data recorder, which has been released by Indonesian investigators, show the pilots were pulling back on the control column, attempting to raise the plane’s nose, with almost 100 pounds of pressure before they crashed. The cockpit voice recorder is likely to chronicle the steps taken by the pilots in the final moments of the flight.
The crash, one of the worst in Indonesia in recent years, has highlighted the country’s patchy aviation safety record, as well as potential issues with the Boeing 737 Max 8 model. The aircraft is the most popular in Boeing’s history, and Lion Air is among the fastest-growing carriers in Indonesia. Both companies have said they are cooperating with investigators on determining the cause of the crash.