Divers waiting to inspect the possible wreck of an
AirAsia Indonesia jet off Borneo were unable to
resume operations because of heavy seas on
Thursday and an aviation official said it could
take a week to find the black box flight recorders.
Crews were on standby to descend to a large
object detected by sonar on the ocean floor, lying
just 30-50 meters (100-165 feet) deep. Rescuers
believe it is the Airbus A320-200, which was
carrying 162 people when it crashed on Sunday
en route from the city of Surabaya to Singapore.
“I am hoping that the latest information is correct
and aircraft has been found,” airline boss Tony
Fernandes tweeted on Thursday. “Please all hope
together. This is so important.”
But Toos Sanitiyoso, an air safety investigator
with the National Committee for Transportation
Safety, said the black box flight data and voice
recorders could be found within a week,
suggesting there was still doubt over the plane’s
“The main thing is to find the main area of the
wreckage and then the black box,” he told
None of the tell-tale black box “pings” had been
detected, he said.
“There are two steps of finding the black box. One
is we try to find the largest portion of the
wreckage,” he said.
Divers would not be sent into the water without a
target, search official Sunarbowo Sandi said.
“They wouldn’t go in without it,” he said. “The
divers are not searching.”
The plane was traveling at 32,000 feet (9,753
meters) and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet
to avoid bad weather
Frogman commander Lieutenant Edi Tirkayasa
said the weather was making the operation extra
“What is most difficult is finding the location
where the plane fell – checking whether the
aircraft is really there,” he told Reuters.
“This is very difficult even with sophisticated
equipment. With weather like this, who knows?
We are still hopeful and optimistic that they’ll find
it. They must.”
Investigators are working on a theory that the
plane stalled as it climbed steeply to avoid a
storm about 40 minutes into the flight.
So far, at least seven bodies have been recovered
from waters near the suspected crash site, along
with debris such a suitcase, an emergency slide
and a life jacket.
The bodies are being taken in numbered coffins to
Surabaya, where relatives of the victims have
gathered, for identification. Authorities have been
collecting DNA from relatives to help identify the
“We are asking universities to work with us –
from the whole country,” said Anton Castilani,
executive director at Indonesia’s disaster victims
identification committee.
Most of those on board were Indonesians. No
survivors have been found. Relatives, many of
whom collapsed in grief when they saw the first
grim television pictures confirming their fears on
Tuesday, held prayers at a crisis center at
Surabaya airport.
The plane was traveling at 32,000 feet (9,753
meters) and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to
avoid bad weather. When air traffic controllers
granted permission for a rise to 34,000 feet a few
minutes later, they received no response.
A source close to the probe into what happened
said radar data appeared to show that the
aircraft made an “unbelievably” steep climb before
it crashed, possibly pushing it beyond the Airbus
A320’s limits.
“It appears to be beyond the performance
envelope of the aircraft,” he said.
The source, who declined to be identified, added
that more information was needed to come to a
firm conclusion. – JC Mac Farlane @Macfarlane123

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