Black boxes retrieved from lost Indonesian airliner after eight months

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eight months after the January 1st crash of Adam Air Flight 574 into Indonesian waters, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) have been retrieved from the wreckage.

The devices, collectively referred to as 'black boxes', had remained unrecovered over a dispute between the Indonesian government and the airline over who would bear the costs of salvage.

Only recently has a contract been signed with United States salvage firm Phoenix International, who arrived last week in Indonesia to receive the recorders, working co-operatively with the Indonesian Transport Safety Commission (ITSC) and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The boxes were located by an underwater remotely operated vehicle searching the seabed near Majene, Sulawesi, where the plane went down. They were approximately 2,000 metres (6,500 ft) down and 1,400 metres apart. The FDR was recovered on August 27 at midday and the CVR was retrieved the following day at 10 a.m.

According to Tatang Kurniadi, chairman of the ITSC, the boxes exibit only minor physical damage, but there is currently no way of knowing if the data they contain has been damaged or destroyed by their prolonged stay underwater.

The devices will now be sent to Washington for analysis by NTSB specialists.