Indonesia halts search for victims of Sriwijaya Air crash

By Yuddy Cahya Budiman

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian authorities said on Thursday the search for victims of a plane crash that killed all 62 people on board had been halted, but the hunt would continue for the Sriwijaya Air jet’s cockpit voice recorder (CVR).

“Search operations have been closed, but we will continue to search for the CVR,” said Bagus Puruhito, who heads the country’s search and rescue agency.

He told reporters that the rescue team had collected more than 324 bags of body parts and plane parts.

Flight SJ 182 crashed into the Java Sea on Jan. 9 four minutes after take-off from Jakarta.

Divers last week retrieved from the seabed the other so-called black box, the flight data recorder, of the 26-year-old Boeing Co 737-500 jet.

The Sriwijaya crash was the biggest airline disaster in Indonesia since October 2018, when 189 people were killed onboard a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX that also plunged into the Java Sea soon after take-off.

(Reporting by Yuddy Cahya; Writing by Fanny Potkin; Editing by Martin Petty)

Indonesia resumes search for victims, black box of crashed Sriwijaya jet

By Bernadette Christina Munthe and Agustinus Beo Da Costa

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian divers resumed a search on Thursday for the remains of 62 victims and the cockpit voice recorder from a Sriwijaya Air plane that plunged into the Java Sea soon after takeoff last weekend, officials said.

The search at the crash site of the Boeing 737-500, which was traveling from Jakarta to Pontianak, had been temporarily suspended on Wednesday after bad weather whipped up high waves.

A team of divers recovered one of the plane’s black boxes, the flight data recorder (FDR), from the seabed earlier this week and efforts were underway on Thursday to retrieve the cockpit voice recorder (CVR).

With the cause of the fatal crash of the nearly 27-year-old plane unclear, investigators will rely heavily on the black boxes to determine what caused it to lose control minutes after take-off.

Indonesia National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) head Soerjanto Tjahjono told Reuters the FDR information was still being processed and a preliminary report would be published within 30 days of the crash in line with international standards.

Tempo newspaper on Thursday reported the plane had experienced recurring problems with the autothrottle system that automatically controls the engine power settings since returning from storage last month. Sriwijaya did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Tjahjono said if the autothrottle system was not working, the pilots could control the settings manually with their hands.

An airline pilot who was not authorized to speak publicly said it was considered acceptable for a plane to fly when the autothrottle system was not working, though it would increase the pilot workload and could prove distracting in an emergency situation.

Most air accidents are typically caused by a range of factors that can take months to establish, according to safety experts.

The Sriwijaya crash is the biggest airline disaster in Indonesia since 189 people were killed onboard a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX that plunged into the Java Sea minutes after take-off in 2018.

(Additional reporting by Stanley Widianto in Jakarta and Jamie Freed in Sydney; Writing by Kate Lamb and Jamie Freed, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Indonesia retrieves crashed Sriwijaya Air plane’s flight data recorder

By Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Fransiska Nangoy

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian divers on Tuesday retrieved from the sea bed the flight data recorder (FDR) of a Sriwijaya Air plane that crashed into the Java Sea with 62 people on board at the weekend, officials said.

Divers had also found a separate radio beacon, raising hopes that the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) it was connected to could soon be found and reveal what caused the plane to lose control moments after takeoff.

“We are sure that, because the beacon that was attached to the cockpit voice recorder was also found around the area, so with high confidence, the cockpit voice recorder will soon be found,” military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said at a news conference.

With few immediate clues on what happened after takeoff, investigators will rely heavily on the flight recorders to determine what went wrong.

The Boeing 737-500 plane plunged into the sea on Saturday, four minutes after it departed from Jakarta’s main airport and disappeared off radar screens.

It was the second major air crash in Indonesia since 189 people were killed in 2018 when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX plunged into the Java Sea soon after taking off from Jakarta. The jet that crashed on Saturday was of a largely different design.

The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) expects to download the FDR data within two to five days, its chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said.


“Hopefully we will be able to unveil the mystery of what caused this accident … so this becomes a lesson for all of us to avoid this in the future,” Soerjanto said.

Earlier on Tuesday, more human remains were found at the crash site, as well as personal effects, such as wallets containing identification cards.

The plane had been headed to Pontianak on Borneo island, about 740 km (460 miles) from Jakarta.

The KNKT’s initial findings showed the plane’s engine was running when it hit the water, based on jet parts retrieved from the sea.

“The damage on the fan blade showed that the engine was still working on impact. This is consistent with the hypothesis that the plane’s system was still working at 250 feet altitude,” Soerjanto said.

Indonesia’s transport ministry said earlier on Tuesday the jet, which was grounded during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, had passed an airworthiness inspection on Dec. 14 and had returned to service shortly after.

The Sriwijaya Air plane was nearly 27 years old, much older than Boeing’s problem-plagued 737 MAX model.

Older 737 models are widely flown and do not have the stall-prevention system implicated in the MAX safety crisis.

(Additional reporting by Tabita Diela; Writing by Ed Davies and Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Martin Petty and Bernadette Baum)