Lion Air: Crashed Indonesian plane's black box found

Friday, 02 Nov, 2018

Divers recovered a flight recorder Thursday from the crashed airliner on the seafloor, a crucial development in the investigation into what caused the 2-month-old plane to plunge into Indonesian seas earlier this week, killing all 189 people on board.

Crews have been scouring the Java Sea for the plane's fuselage and recorders, as so many questions remain unresolved.

Divers lifted the recording device from the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft on Thursday morning, Reuters reported, the fourth day of the investigation into why the jet downed and who the victims were.

Lion Air has been plagued by safety woes and customer complaints over unreliable scheduling and poor service.

Lion Air 610, a twin-engine Boeing 737 MAX 8, took off from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for the mining region of Pangkal Pinang early Monday.

A "black box" flight recorder from Lion Air flight JT 610 has been found by divers off the coast of Indonesia.

Indonesia's second-deadliest air disaster since 1997 has prompted renewed concern about its patchy safety record, and the government has said Lion Air will be regulated more closely.

With media speculating on the airworthiness of the aircraft, the transport ministry suspended for 120 days Lion Air's maintenance and engineering director, fleet maintenance manager and the release engineer who gave the jet permission to fly on Monday.

There is no indication yet of what caused the plane to go down 13 minutes after taking off, though a log obtained by the BBC showed the plane had encountered technical problems while flying from Bali to Jakarta the previous day.

Armed forces chief Hadi Tjahjanto says a search and rescue effort has identified the possible seabed location of the jet.

Inspections have already been carried out on Lion Air's other Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes, preventing them from flying.

A team of rescuers heard pings from an underwater locator beacon with a distinct sound and interval between them, making it very likely that the wreckage and the location of the flight recorder have been identified, authorities said.

Boeing said it was providing technical assistance under the direction of Indonesian authorities, while the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also helping the probe.

So far 56 body bags containing body parts of victims have been taken to the Kramat Jati Police Hospital in East Jakarta, for identification. The country's airlines have previously been banned from operating in the United States and European Union.

Passengers on the Sunday flight, JT043, told of how a "roller coaster" ride prompted some to panic and vomit.

The accident has also resurrected concerns about Indonesia's patchy air safety record which led to a now-lifted ban on its planes entering U.S. and European airspace.