Divers Find Black Boxes in AirAsia Crash, Retrieve One of Them

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia (AP) -
Indonesian Air Force and Indonesian Navy personnel hold one of the black boxes of the ill-fated AirAsia Flight 8501 that crashed in the Java Sea, at airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, Monday. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Indonesian Air Force and Indonesian Navy personnel hold one of the black boxes of the ill-fated AirAsia Flight 8501 that crashed in the Java Sea, at airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, Monday. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Divers retrieved one black box Monday and located the other from the AirAsia plane that crashed more than two weeks ago, key developments that should help investigators unravel what caused the aircraft to plummet into the Java Sea.

The flight data recorder was pulled from beneath a piece of the aircraft’s wing and brought to the sea’s surface, and the cockpit voice recorder was found hours later, said Suryadi Bambang Supriyadi, operation coordinator for Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency.

He said the voice recorder was about 20 meters (66 feet) from the data recorder but remained lodged beneath heavy wreckage, and divers were struggling to free it at a depth of 32 meters (105 feet).

Searchers began zeroing in on the location a day earlier after three Indonesian ships picked up intense pings from the area, but they were unable to see the devices due to strong currents and poor visibility.

The two instruments, which emit signals from their beacons, are vital to understanding what brought Flight 8501 down on Dec. 28, killing all 162 people on board. They should provide essential information about the plane and all of the conversations between the captain and co-pilot for the duration of the flight.

The flight data recorder will be taken to Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, for evaluation, and the other black box will be sent as soon as it is retrieved. It could take up to two weeks to download and analyze their information, said Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at the National Committee for Safety Transportation.

So far, only 48 bodies have been recovered. Decomposition is making identification more difficult for desperate families waiting to bury their loved ones. Nearly all of the passengers were Indonesian.