The cockpit voice recorder from Lion Air Flight 610 has been found by Indonesian authorities, not far from where the doomed Boeing 737 Max 8 plunged into the ocean killing all 189 people aboard.
The device was found buried in 98 feet of mud, according to Reuters, with authorities using a “ping locator” to dredge it up from the Java Sea. The “black box” device is bright orange coloured, and was apparently found around 160-feet from the plane’s original flight data recorder.
So far, authorities have indicated that a problem with the plane’s airspeed indicator played a part in the disaster. The device reportedly encountered a glitch, with an inaccurate signal triggering an automatic nose-down security function, meant to steer the aircraft downward in the event of its nose raising too high. Pilots were ultimately unable to regain control of the plummeting aircraft, and it crashed into the Java Sea just 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on October 29.
The very same problem plagued the aircraft on four previous flights, which has placed Lion Air under tight scrutiny for failing to identify the issue before its disastrous course with the ocean. The plane was new and making a routine journey, the airline contends. Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer, has been accused of failing to provide pilots with training materials that would help them understand the automated safety-control feature. The manufacturer provided a safety bulletin to airlines about disengaging the feature prior to the crash, and is currently facing lawsuits from some of the victims’ families.
A preliminary report on the crash released by Indonesia’s transport safety commission discussed these issues in November.
Haryo Satmiko, deputy chief of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, told Reuters that authorities are poised to download all data from the newly-recovered device, and it shouldn’t take longer than five days to do so: “We have our own laboratory and personnel to do it,” he said.
Authorities were lucky to find the voice recorder when they did. While sitting on the ocean floor, the device sent acoustic “pings,” out to search parties, but only with a lifespan of 90 days, meaning the deadline was fast approaching on January 27.
There’s no further plans to search for wreckage of the flight following the discovery of the device, authorities confirmed to Reuters.