MIAMI – Divers searching off the coast of Indonesia near Jakarta have retrieved one of the two black boxes from Sriwijaya Air flight 182 that crashed into the sea Saturday. Both CNN and jakartapost.com report that the boxes were located within 200 meters of the crash site.

Flight data recorders process a flight’s information, including pressure, airspeed and altitude. The second black box, the cockpit voice recorder, has not yet been found.

CNN.com reports Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto as saying that that the black boxes’ underwater acoustic beacons, which send out a series of pings to help searchers find them, had both been detached. He was optimistic, however, that the team would find the second black box soon.

Head of the National Transport Safety Committee Soerjanto Tjahjono said that authorities would need two to five days to read the recovered black box’s data. “We are expecting that through this investigation we can unfold the mystery of this accident,” he said.

The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 fell 10,000 feet in less than a minute into the Java sea soon after takeoff on Saturday. The craft was flying from Jakarta to Pontianak in Indonesian Borneo.

The 737-500 is not the same plane type as the 737 MAX that has just returned to flying after being grounded due to software glitches that led to two fatal accidents. However, one of those crashed planes was flown by Lion Air which is based in Jakarta.

Navy divers prepare to go under during recovery operations. Photo: Agency France Press/Adek Berry.

Large Recovery Effort


Investigators on a navy ship began picking up a strong signal from a search area. Divers were able to retrieve the box in about an hour. The box was surrounded by wreckage on the seabed. The Jakarta Post reports that officials think the voice recorder is nearby and that it should be recovered soon.

Around 3,600 personnel are involved with the recovery effort. An armada of private boats and helicopters flying over and around the Jakarta coast are also involved. Rescuers have found no survivors. Ten children were aboard the flight which was about half full.

The Jakarta Posts quotes a transport safety agency investigator as saying the crew did not declare an emergency or report technical problems. The 737 was likely intact when it hit the water.

Search-and-rescue agency chief Soerjanto Tjahono noted the small debris area of the crash site saying, “The size is consistent with the assumption that the plane didn’t explode before hitting the water. The damage seen on the retrieved fan blade also shows that the engine was still working” at the time of the crash.

As yet, there is no explanation on why the craft crashed just four minutes after takeoff.


Featured image: Sriwijaya_Air_Boeing_737-524(WL). Photo. Wiki Commons