Indonesian investigators say data successfully downloaded from the flight data recorder of a crashed Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 confirms both engines were running when the plane hit the water.
The recorder was recovered by divers on January 12 and Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Board said the data on it was in good condition.
The download, which Reuters said covered 330 parameters, means investigators will be able to examine aspects such as flight surface configurations, heading speed and engine power in the final minutes before the plane slammed into the sea.
The search continues for the cockpit voice recorder which could add context by revealing any comments by the pilots prior to the crash.
Investigators should issue a preliminary report within 30 days of the crash but this is usually a factual account of events rather than an analysis of a probable cause or causes.
Officials believe the plane was still intact when it hit the sea on January 9 because of the spread of the wreckage and the fact the aircraft was transmitting information as it plummeted. They say this rules out a mid-air explosion.
Flight SJ182 was not on its assigned heading but the pilots did not respond to queries from air traffic control about the change. Why this was so will be among the questions investigators will be hoping information on the black boxes will answer.
The aging Sriwijaya plane was about 11 nautical miles north of Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on a flight between Jakarta and Pontianak in Borneo when contact was lost.
It was under the control of experienced pilots and officials revealed Tuesday it had been grounded during the COVID-19 pandemic and passed an inspection to return it to service on December 14.
It made its first flight about five days after the inspection without passengers and returned to service shortly afterward.
Searchers have retrieved body parts and wreckage, including part of an engine, some of which have already been taken to Jakarta.
Flight tracking and specialist air crash sites have already revealed some information about the flight, the departure of which had been delayed by heavy rain.
The Aviation Herald reported the aircraft had departed Soekarno International Airport at 2:36 pm local time, climbed through 1700 feet and was cleared to 29,000 feet.
“Departure control subsequently noticed that the aircraft was not on its assigned heading of 075 degrees, but tracking northwesterly and queried the crew about the heading at 14:40L, but received no reply, within second(s) the aircraft disappeared from radar,” it said.