Indonesian crews recover black box from crashed jet

Charlene Craig
November 4, 2018

The search for the crashed Lion Air plane has found aircraft debris and passenger belongings on the seafloor but the object thought to be the fuselage is still eluding it, an Indonesian official said Wednesday, as chilling video of passengers boarding the fatal flight emerged.

The airline's uneven safety record, including another crash at sea with no deaths in 2013, led the USA and the European Union to ban the airline from their airspace.

Spokesman for Indonesia's search and rescue agency Yusuf Latif confirmed the finding of an "orange object", but did not confirm it was the black box.

It could take up to three weeks to download their data and up to six months to analyse it, Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of a national transport safety committee (KNKT), said.

Local TV stations showed images of the black box - which refers to the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder - being transferred from an inflatable dinghy to a larger ship.

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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. The European Union similarly barred Indonesian carriers from flying into European airspace from 2007 until June.

The aircraft departed Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport en route to Pangkal Pinang, carrying a total of 189 people before it lost contact.

Indonesian navy divers on Thursday recovered a flight recorder from Lion Air Flight JT610, which crashed Monday outside Jakarta.

Lion Air said there were reports of technical problems with Sunday's flight from Bali, but they had been resolved in accordance with the plane manufacturer's procedures.

There is no indication yet of what caused the plane to go down 13 minutes after taking off.

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In a statement, Boeing expressed sympathy for the victims and families and said it stood "ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation".

Although it is now nearly certain that everyone on the plane died, relatives are desperate to find traces of their loved ones, with only debris and body parts found so far.

Indonesia's national police started collecting DNA samples from the victims' relatives, according to The Jakarta Post, but the process has been slow because officials have found only body parts to work with.

Shortly after Lion Air Flight 610 took off on Monday, its pilot, Bhavye Suneja, asked to turn back, seemingly because he knew something was wrong.

Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade.

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