Thursday 14 November 2019

AirAsia jet's tail raises hope for recovery of black box

Crew members of an Indonesian navy ship carry what could be the tail of a missing AirAsia jet. It is in this part of the plane that the crucial black box voice and flight data recorders are located. AP Photo/Trisnadi
Crew members of an Indonesian navy ship carry what could be the tail of a missing AirAsia jet. It is in this part of the plane that the crucial black box voice and flight data recorders are located. AP Photo/Trisnadi

Andrew Marszal

An Indonesian naval patrol vessel has found what the captain said could be the tail of a missing AirAsia jet, the section where the crucial black box voice and flight data recorders are located.

"We found what has a high probability of being the tail of the plane," Yayan Sofyan, captain of the patrol vessel said.

But the Indonesian search and rescue agency is yet to confirm the discovery.

The development came as Indonesian navy divers took advantage of calmer waters yesterday to resume efforts to identify suspected wreckage from the missing AirAsia passenger jet with no signal detected yet from the black box recorders.

Three more bodies were found early yesterday, bringing the total found so far to 37 of the 162 people on board, as ships and aircraft seeking debris and bodies from the Airbus A320-200 widened their search area.

The search area was expanded to allow for currents eight days after Flight QZ8501 plunged into the water en route from Indonesia's second-biggest city, Surabaya, to Singapore. Helicopters will search coastal areas.

Indonesia's meteorological agency has said seasonal tropical storms probably contributed to the December 28 crash and the weather has persistently hampered efforts to recover bodies and find the cockpit voice and flight data recorders that should explain why the plane crashed into the sea.

The main focus of the search is about 90 nautical miles off the coast of Borneo island, where five large objects believed to be parts of the plane - the largest about 18 metres (59 feet) long - have been pinpointed in shallow waters by ships using sonar.

It emerged yesterday that one of the five large objects discovered was in fact a sunken boat.

Both flight recorders are located near the tail of the Airbus, but it was unclear whether that part of the aircraft was among the debris found on the seabed.

"The weather is quite conducive. The visibility is six kilometres, there's no low cloud, the wind is calm," Air Force Lt Colonel Jhonson Supriadi said.

"With our calculations of currents this strong, every day this operational area is extended."

Yesterday, the family of a victim of the crash told how they learnt of their loved one's fate after being sent a "selfie" he had taken on board the doomed flight.

The image was taken aboard the flight as it prepared for takeoff.

Disappearance

A cheerful-looking Hendra Gunawan Syawal (23) had taken the photograph with three friends aboard the Airbus A320 just an hour before it plunged into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board.

Yunita Syawal, who had already heard news of the flight's disappearance when she was sent the image of her brother, had not known he was due to fly that day.

But a call to her parents confirmed her worst fears.

"I immediately flew to Surabaya," she said.

Six days later, she helped to identify his body.

"Even after days, we still kept thinking he's alive, but now that we have seen his body, we know he's gone for sure," said Ms Syawal.

"There is a void left in my heart, but I hope in time I will heal."

Meanwhile, relatives of the AirAsia jet's passengers have been offered a chance to fly to the area believed to be the crash site and lay flower wreaths, the commander of the Indonesian armed forces, General Moeldoko, said in Surabaya. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Read more: Air Disasters: Why do we still rely on black boxes?

Telegraph.co.uk

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