Indonesian divers recovered a flight recorder from the downed Lion Air jet on the sea floor on Thursday, a crucial development to find out what caused the new plane to plunge into the sea and kill 189 people.
An Indonesian Lion Air jet with 189 passengers and crew plunged into the sea Monday in what could be the country's deadliest aviation accident since 234 people died when an Airbus A-300B4 operated by national carrier Garuda crashed in 1997.
Only "small pieces" of the aircraft had been found, the diver said, adding that the search had gradually closed in on the black box.
Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for Indonesia's search and rescue agency, stopped short of saying a black box had been found, but confirmed the discovery of "an orange object".
The FDR was brought to the surface by two Navy divers and has been sent to the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) headquarters in Jakarta for further investigation.
Local TV stations showed images of the black box - which refers to the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder - being transferred from an inflatable dinghy to a larger ship. "And hopefully that is the main body of the plane that we've been looking for".
Indonesia's disaster agency posted photos online of a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels that have converged on the area.
Late yesterday, Indonesia's Transport Minister said the technical director of Lion Air and staff who approved Monday's flight had been removed from duty by the ministry.
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Data from that flight suggested the plane may have flown erratically and a technical log circulating on social media pointed to different speed and altitude readings on the captain and first officer's instruments.
The first victim has also been formally identified as a 24-year-old female employee at Jakarta's energy ministry.
"DNA samples have been taken from 132 family members of passengers on board to help with identification", CNN reports.
But Soejatman has gone through publicly available flight data and says, "a similar erratic climb and groundspeed problem showing that the pitot tubes could have also been a problem on Sunday".
Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 were flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade.
A rescue team collect debris from a crashed plane at Tanjung Priok Harbour, Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The ban was completely lifted in June. It has been expanding aggressively in Southeast Asia, a fast- growing region of more than 600 million people.