Indonesia finds Sriwijaya Air jet's cockpit voice recorder

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National Transportation Safety Committee investigators carry a box containing the cockpit voice recorder of Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182 retrieved from the waters off Java Island where the passenger jet crashed in January, during a press conference at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

JAKARTA – Indonesian navy divers have recovered the cockpit voice recorder of a Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea in January, killing all 62 people on board, officials said Wednesday.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said divers retrieved the cockpit recorder at about 08.00 p.m. Tuesday local time, near where the flight data recorder was recovered three days after the accident.

The contents of the recorder were not immediately available. However, the device could help investigators determine what caused the Boeing 737-500 to nosedive into the ocean in heavy rain shortly after it took off from Jakarta on Jan. 9.

If the voice recorder is undamaged, it might tell investigators what the pilots were doing — or failing to do — to regain control of the plane during its brief, erratic flight.

Searchers have recovered plane parts and human remains from an area between Lancang and Laki islands in the Thousand Island chain, just north of Jakarta. The flight data recorder tracked hundreds of parameters showing how the plane was being operated.

Most retrieval efforts ended about two weeks after the crash, but a limited search is continuing for the missing memory unit of the cockpit voice recorder, which apparently broke away from other parts of the device during the crash.

The bright orange voice recorder was taken to Jakarta and given to the National Transportation Safety Committee, which is overseeing the accident investigation.

“We hope the KNKT could share information about what is contained in this VCR to improve our aviation safety,” Sumadi said, referring to Indonesian acronym for the transportation committee.