Indonesia retrieves crashed AirAsia jet’s flight data recorder

By Olivia Rondonuwu ,AFP

ABOARD THE KRI BANDA ACEH WARSHIP, Indonesia — Indonesian divers Monday retrieved the flight data recorder of the AirAsia plane that went down in the Java Sea with 162 people on board, a potential breakthrough in efforts to discover what caused the crash.

The second black box, the cockpit voice recorder, was spotted by divers a short distance from the first but they had not yet managed to retrieve it because it was trapped under wreckage, officials said.

They also gave new dramatic details of the accident, saying a rapid change in pressure caused the plane to ��explode�� as it hit the water.

Navy divers brought the flight data recorder to the surface early in the morning, said national rescue chief Bambang Soelistyo, after a fortnight-long frustrating search often hampered by bad weather.

��We succeeded in bringing up part of the black box that we call the flight data recorder,�� Soelistyo told reporters in Jakarta. S.B. Supriyadi, a director with the rescue agency, said efforts would resume Tuesday to recover the second recorder, which was about 20 meters (65 feet) from the first and trapped under a wing. He told reporters in Pangkalan Bun on Borneo island, the search headquarters, that giant balloons might be used to raise the wing so that the device could be retrieved. The flight data recorder monitors information such as airspeed and heading, while the cockpit voice recorder stores radio transmissions and sounds in the cockpit. Both are located near the rear of the plane and designed to survive underwater. Indonesian military chief Moeldoko told reporters aboard navy ship the KRI Banda Aceh that the main cabin, which is believed to contain most of the victims, had not yet been found. Just 48 bodies have so far been recovered. Exploded on Impact

Officials said they believe the flight data recorder is in good condition and it was being flown to Jakarta on Monday. Indonesia’s National Transport Safety Committee said it would undergo a lengthy analysis in the capital, with the help of a team of experts including from France and manufacturer Airbus.

The committee has said a preliminary report on the accident will be produced within a month, and a final report after a year. Supriyadi said initial analysis of the wreckage so far recovered indicated that the plane broke apart on impact with the water. ��It exploded because of the pressure,�� he said. ��The cabin was pressurized and before the pressure of the cabin could be adjusted, it went down �X boom. That explosion was heard in the area.�� The tail of the plane, with its red AirAsia logo, was lifted out of the water on Saturday. It was brought by tugboat on Sunday to a port near Pangkalan Bun.