AirAsia cockpit voice recorder found - Indonesian officials

The voice recorder was found by navy divers and then handed to crash investigators Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The voice recorder was found by navy divers and then handed to crash investigators

Divers in the Java Sea have retrieved the cockpit voice recorder from the crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501, say officials.

The retrieval comes a day after the first piece of the so-called black box, the flight data recorder, was also found and brought to shore.

The aircraft with 162 people on board disappeared between Surabaya in Indonesia and Singapore on 28 December.

The two devices will help investigators understand more about what went wrong.

Forty-eight bodies have been recovered so far, but most of the victims are believed to still be inside the fuselage.

SB Supriadi from Indonesia's search and rescue agency told the BBC's Indonesian service the fuselage had been located by divers about 1.5km (0.9 miles) from where the tail section was found last week.

He said there were no plans yet to go down and retrieve it.

Pilot conversations

The voice recorder was discovered close to where the flight data recorder was found on Monday.

Navy divers found it under debris and not under a wing as initially thought, a military official said on Indonesian television.

It was then handed to the Indonesian air crash investigation team.

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Media captionRichard Westcott reports from a 'black box' investigation centre in the UK

Analysis: Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

There are two black boxes.

One records all the sounds on the flight deck. Not just voices, but alarms, switches being moved, engine noise, bangs, even the crew moving about.

This is the one investigators are likely to check first, because it might give a quick answer as to why the AirAsia plane crashed without warning.

The second box records what the aircraft was doing, technically.

It registers hundreds, sometimes thousands of pieces of data - speed, height, sudden changes in air pressure, what the controls were doing.

Investigators always like to marry the two sets of data together to get the full picture.

Data tends to tell you what happened. The crew's voices could help explain why.

Finding the boxes is a huge boost to investigators but it could still be several days before the families have any answers.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The tail was recovered last week but the black box was not inside

"This is good news for investigators to reveal the cause of the plane crash," said Tonny Budiono, sea navigation director at the Transportation Ministry.

The BBC's Karishma Vaswani said the device - which records all conversations between the pilots - will be analysed by aviation experts.

The flight data recorder - holding information about the speed at which the plane was travelling, its altitude and other technical information - is already in the capital.

Flight recorders are designed to survive a crash and being submerged in water. They contain underwater locator beacons which emit so-called "pings" for at least 30 days.

These pings were detected by search vessels at the weekend but divers were prevented from going down to find them by strong currents and high waves.

Timeline: AirAsia QZ8501

  • 28 Dec: AirAsia says it has lost contact with flight QZ8501 which was en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board
  • 30 Dec: Wreckage seen floating off coast of Borneo. Later officials confirm it is from the AirAsia flight. A body is also seen. Search and rescue teams navigate high waves, strong currents and bad weather to recover wreckage and bodies
  • 3 Jan: The Indonesian weather agency says it believes bad weather was the "biggest factor" in the crash
  • 10 Jan: Tail of the plane is lifted out of the Java Sea, but the "black box" is not found where it is usually housed
  • 12 Jan: Flight data recorder is retrieved and sent to Jakarta for memory to be downloaded and analysed
  • 13 Jan: Cockpit voice recorder is retrieved from under heavy wreckage, hopefully containing the pilots' last conversations

The AirAsia plane was 42 minutes into its short flight to Singapore when it vanished from radar.

The cause of the crash is not yet known, but bad weather is thought to have been a factor. The pilot's last communication was a request for permission to change course to avoid a storm.

But it has also emerged that AirAsia may not have had clearance to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on the day in question. Its licence for the route has now been suspended.

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