Indonesian divers have recovered a crucial “black box” recorder from the wreckage of the Lion Air flight that crashed in the sea off Jakarta on Monday.
“We followed the device, and narrowed the area (of search) and then we dug again the location where the sensitive (ping) sound was heard and finally found the black box,” Singapore’s Straits Times quoted diver Sertu Hendra, who found the device in the Java Sea, as saying.
He added the recorder, understood to .tbe the flight data recorder, was found in good condition and at a depth of about 30m.
The recorders will be crucial to determining what went wrong on the flight which crashed shortly after take-off on Monday with the loss of 189 lives.
The flight data recorder (FDR) should be able to give a detailed snapshot of what the plane did heading into its high-speed dive into the water.
Regulations require that FDRs in newly manufactured aircraft must monitor at least 88 important parameters such as time, altitude, airspeed, heading, and aircraft attitude.
But some FDRs can record more than 1000 parameters.
Meanwhile, Lion Air on Wednesday suspended its technical director on the instruction of the Indonesian Transport Ministry.
Muhammad Asif had been in the job less than a month and it was not clear if he would be reinstated if found not to be at fault in the crash.
“Today we will remove Lion Air’s technical director from his duties,” the airline said in the statement that also announced Muhammad Rusli had been appointed as acting technical director.
Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said others who had recommended that the plane was fit to fly after it experienced problems on Sunday would also be suspended.
Nobody yet knows what happened to cause the recently delivered Boeing 737 MAX 8 to plunge into the sea at high speed just 13 minutes after take-off from Jakarta.
It reached a maximum altitude of 5400ft before radar contact was lost.
The aircraft, which had just 800 flight hour on the clock, had behaved erratically the night before the doomed flight but had been cleared to operate the next day.
Passengers on the Sunday flight, JT043, told of how a “roller coaster” ride prompted some to panic and vomit.
“About three to eight minutes after it took off, I felt like the plane was losing power and unable to rise. That happened several times,” passenger Alan Soetanto told TVOne. “We felt like in a roller coaster. Some passengers began to panic and vomit.”
The airline said the issues on Sunday were addressed in accordance with Boeing procedures.
At this stage, the spotlight is as much focussed on the new high-tech plane as it is on the airline.
There were reports the pilot asked to turn back shortly after take-off and flight tracking websites also recorded erratic speed and altitude readings.
Indonesia earlier this week ordered inspections of all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft but has not prevented them from operating.
Search and rescue workers continued today to pick up wreckage and body parts as grieving relatives watched on.
Representatives from manufacturer Boeing are believed to have arrived at the scene.