Downed AirAsia Flight’s Black Boxes Likely to Be Found in Coming Days: Crash’s Chief Investigator

Nation/world

An AirAsia India Airbus A320 takes off as it embarks on the carrier’s inaugural domestic flight to Goa from the Kempe Gowda International Airport (KGIA) in Bangalore on June 12, 2014. (Credit: MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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AirAsia Flight QZ8501’s black boxes will likely be found in “a few days,” the crash’s chief investigator said Saturday, after searchers were able to hear more pings even if they haven’t yet pinpointed where they came from.

The investigator, Mardjono Siswosuwarno, told CNN that smaller boats picked up several pings emanating from roughly 500 meters from where the commercial jet’s tail was found.

“I think we will be able to find the black boxes in a few days, because the location where pings were detected is not very far from the tail,” Siswosuwarno said.

This wouldn’t be a major surprise, since the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were housed in the Airbus A320-200’s tail.

The aircraft went down in the Java Sea on Dec. 28 with 162 people on board. The plane’s pilot had asked to change course and climb to a higher altitude minutes before contact was lost, according to Indonesian officials.

Unlike Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — which went missing last March and still hasn’t been located — remnants of Flight QZ850 were spotted within days.

More recently, an Indonesian search vessel detected pings like those that might come from the black boxes, Indonesian armed forces head Gen. Moeldoko said. Batteries that send out the pings last 30 days. It has been 13 days since the AirAsia plane fell into the sea.

But there was caution about these signals, since the sound could be emanating from other sources — as happened with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

After being spotted earlier this week, onlookers clapped as an underwater balloon started heaving a submerged tail section onto an awaiting ship.

That ship, the Crest Onyx, will take it toward Kumai harbor and eventually to shore.

That’s where investigators will examine the tail and look for the black boxes. Siswosuwarno said that he cannot confirm, one way or another, that those recorders are in the part of the recovered tail or if they’re still somewhere in the sea.

A total of 48 bodies has been recovered so far, according to Indonesia’s search and rescue agency.

The vast majority of the people on AirAsia QZ8501 were Indonesian. There were also citizens of Britain, France, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

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