The cockpit voice recorder from an Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed in October has been recovered, officials said Monday, a discovery that could be critical to explaining why a brand new plane fell out of the sky just after take-off.
The Boeing 737 MAX vanished from radar about 13 minutes after departing Jakarta, slamming into the Java Sea moments after pilots had asked to return to the capital and killing all 189 people onboard.
The bright orange voice recorder was discovered early Monday about 10 metres from a flight data recorder that was pinpointed back in November, authorities said.
“But it’s broken into two pieces so hopefully it’s still useful” to investigators, Haryo Satmiko, deputy head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC), told AFP.
More human remains were also found near the voice recorder, he added, without giving details.
“This will really help the investigation process and could give some more answers on the cause” of the crash, said Jakarta-based aviation analyst Dudi Sudibyo.
The plane’s previously discovered flight data recorder supplied information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane before it plunged into the sea on October 29.
A preliminary crash report from Indonesia’s transport safety agency suggested that pilots of Flight 610 struggled to control the plane’s anti-stalling system just before the accident.
It also found that the Lion Air jet should have been grounded over a recurrent technical problem before its fatal journey, as it criticised the budget carrier’s poor safety culture.
But it did not pinpoint a definitive cause of the crash and a final report is not likely to come before later this year.
Black box data help explain nearly 90% 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 identified after tests on human remains that filled some 200 body bags.