Divers retrieve flight data recorder from crashed Indonesian plane

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Divers have retrieved the flight data recorder from the Indonesian airliner that plunged into the Java Sea with 62 passengers and crew on board, officials said Tuesday.

They also detected a radio beacon that they hope will lead them to the cockpit voice recorder, which it was connected to and could provide answers to what caused the Boeing 737-500 to fall moments after takeoff.

“We are sure that, because the beacon that was attached to the cockpit voice recorder was also found around the area, so with high confidence, the cockpit voice recorder will soon be found,” military chief Hadi Tjahjanto told reporters, Reuters reported.

The National Transportation Safety Committee expects to download the data from the Sriwijaya Air jet’s flight data recorder within two to five days, its chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said.

“Hopefully we will be able to unveil the mystery of what caused this accident … so this becomes a lesson for all of us to avoid this in the future,” he said.

The plane slammed into the sea on Saturday, four minutes after it departed from Jakarta’s main airport en route to Pontianak on Borneo island, about 460 miles away.

The safety committee’s initial findings showed the plane’s engine was running when it hit the water.

“The damage on the fan blade showed that the engine was still working on impact. This is consistent with the hypothesis that the plane’s system was still working at 250 feet altitude,” Soerjanto said.

He ruled out a possible midair breakup after seeing the condition of the wreckage found by searchers.  

Indonesia’s transport ministry said the jet had passed an airworthiness inspection on Dec. 14 and returned to service a short time later after being grounded during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

The doomed aircraft was nearly 27 years old, much older than Boeing’s problem-plagued 737 MAX model. Older 737 models do not have the stall-prevention system implicated in the MAX safety episode.

Indonesian authorities said the US National Transportation Safety Board will join in the investigation.

Aviation analysts said flight-tracking data showed the jet sharply deviated from its planned course before it went into a nosedive.

Earlier Tuesday, more human remains were found at the crash site, as well as personal effects, such as wallets containing identification cards.

A chilling photograph captured a child’s Marvel backpack on the muddy seabed.

So far, the searchers have sent 74 body bags with human remains to police iID experts who on Monday said they had identified their first victim, 29-year-old flight attendant Okky Bisma.

His wife, Aldha Refa, also a flight attendant for Sriwijaya Air, shared her grief on social media.

“My husband is a loving, devout and super kind man,” she wrote on Instagram. “Heaven is your place, dear … be peaceful there.”

Meanwhile, details have emerged about the 54-year-old captain, Afwan, who apologized to his three children for having to leave them again, the BBC reported.

His nephew, Ferza Mahardhika, told the BBC Indonesia that the pilot left his home quickly complaining that “his shirt hadn’t been ironed, when usually he is really neat.”

Afwan’s profile picture on social media is a cartoon of Superman praying, with the words “it doesn’t matter how high you fly, you will never reach heaven if you don’t pray.”

Mahardhika said his uncle “was a very good man. He often gave advice, wise advice. He was a prominent figure in his neighborhood and was well-known for his kindness.

“I’m devastated and can’t believe that this is happening. Please pray for uncle and our family,” he added.

With Post wires

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