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Tragic price as Lion Air searchers close in on black box

November 5, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Searchers have announced a breakthrough in the hunt to find what caused the horrific crash of Lion Air flight JT610, which killed all 189 people aboard when it plunged into the Java Sea.

Divers found the doomed plane’s flight recorder, the so-called “black box” which may have recorded vital clues about what caused the plane to plunge into the sea with little or no warning. See: Plane in deadly Lion Air crash was brand new 

Investigators have now retrieved almost 70 hours of data from that flight recorder and it is being analysed. Its contents may well prove vital to the investigation.

Tragically, a diver has died during the sea search. Indonesian authorities revealed yesterday the death of Syachrul Anto, 48. His death occurred on Friday evening while he was recovering body parts from the crash site in the Java Sea.

Syachrul, a highly experienced diver, is likely to have died from decompression, authorities said. Before the Lion Air search, Syachrul had helped in salvage and recovery following the crash of AirAsia Indonesia’s flight QZ8501 four years ago, as well as in Palu after the September 2018 earthquake and tsunami.

Experts need answers urgently on what caused the Lion Air crash, because the type of plane involved, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, is set to become one of the world’s most widely used models. As of 30 September 2018, Boeing had 4783 firm orders from 98 identified customers – including in Australia – for the 737 MAX.

Search teams from Basarnas (the National Search and Rescue Agency of the Republic of Indonesia) with wreckage from Lion Air flight JT610

In other significant developments:

  • The sea search has been extended for another three days.
  • Divers have detected a signal they believe is from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) – the other vital piece of equipment needed to unravel the crash mystery.
  • The main section of the plane’s fuselage may also have been found, about 35 metres down.
  • The doomed plane’s previous flight, from Bali to Jakarta, is coming under scrutiny. Flight tracking websites show the plane had erratic speed and altitude during that flight – similar to odd readings shown on its brief and fatal, 13-minute flight on Monday that ended in the Java Sea.
  • Passengers on Sunday’s flight reported terrifying descents and in both cases the different cockpit crews requested to return to their departure airport shortly after takeoff.
  • It has been revealed that Lion Air dispatched one of its engineers on the fatal flight. The airline says this was a an “anticipatory measure” in the event of technical problem with a new aircraft, rather than indicating any suspicion of a serious problem.

Wikipedia has identified this as Lion Air aircraft PK-LQP, the B737 MAX 8 plane which crashed while operating  flight JT610

A total of 73 body bags had been gathered from the crash site by the end of the weekend but only four victims had been positively identified.

Below: The largest single piece of the aircraft so far recovered. Photo from Basarnas (the National Search and Rescue Agency of the Republic of Indonesia)

Written by Peter Needham

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