Second black box found

Cockpit voice recorder found close to site of first box

SEARCH teams yesterday recovered the cockpit voice recorder of the SilkAir jetliner that crashed into the Musi River more than two weeks ago.

This was disclosed to The Straits Times by First Admiral Rosihan Arsyad, the Indonesian western fleet commander heading search and rescue operations at the crash site, about 125 km from the South Sumatran capital of Palembang.

He said that the cockpit voice recorder, which records sounds in the cockpit such as the crew’s voices and engine noises, was discovered “very near” where naval divers found the first black box, the flight data recorder.

It was located 5 m north of the spot where the flight data recorder was found on Dec 27.

But it had been embedded deeper in the mud, nearly 10 m down.

The flight data recorder gives information such as flight path, altitude, speed and direction of the plane.

Said First Admiral Rosihan: “The second black box was recovered deep in the river bed by dredging operations at the crash site.

“This is great because we managed to recover a vital find in the time we were given for the search.”

Dredging had started last Wednesday after almost two weeks of manual operations using ships, sonar equipment and naval divers.

It is being carried out round-the-clock in a 60 m by 60 m area that is about 200 m from the western bank of the Musi River. Rescuers believe that most of the aircraft’s debris is concentrated there.

The first three days of excavation work in the chocolate-coloured fast-flowing Musi had recovered three to four times more of the Boeing 737-300’s wreckage than was the case when the search was done manually.

First Admiral Rosihan, a naval pilot by training, said that the discovery of the second black box would provide vital clues on what happened to flight MI 185 which was heading for Singapore before it plunged from 35,000 feet, killing all 104 people on board.

He said the cockpit voice recorder was found in good condition with no evidence of damage which some said it could have sustained because of the high-speed impact of the plane crash.

Sources close to the investigations believe that the nearly-new Boeing 737-300 plummeted into the murky waters at 960 kmh (600 mph).

The admiral said: “From the looks of it, all the components of the second black box seem to be intact.

“The airline investigators will be happy with this find.

“We hope that this important discovery together with the flight data recorder will shed light on why the plane crashed.”

The cockpit voice recorder is likely to be sent to Washington in the next few days where it will be studied together with the flight data recorder by the US National Transportation and Safety Bureau.

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