Indonesia resumed the search for debris from the crashed AirAsia Bhd. (AIRA) jetliner as improved weather in the Java Sea helped investigators scour for the plane’s remains, especially its data recorders.
Only 37 bodies of the 162 people on board Flight 8501 have been recovered so far as bad weather kept hindering the search since the Airbus Group NV (AIR) A320-200 plane disappeared Dec. 28. High-frequency side-scan sonars were deployed by USS Fort Worth to detect signals emitted by the plane’s cockpit-voice recorder and the flight-data recorder.
“We will try in this limited time of clear weather to search under water also,” said S.B. Supriyadi, director of operations at Basarnas, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency.
An international team of divers, helicopters, ships and aircraft are in the search, with key focus areas being finding more bodies, the black box and the fuselage of the aircraft. The Indonesian navy has found bodies still strapped in their seats and debris resembling parts of the tail, Colonel Yayan Sofyan said in an interview on Metro TV. The tail is the location for the flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders.
The jet appears to have flown into a storm cloud, with its engines possibly affected by ice formation, researchers from the Indonesia weather office wrote in a report, citing meteorological data from the flight’s last known location over the Java Sea. The single-aisle jet was operated as QZ8501 by Malaysia-based AirAsia’s Indonesia affiliate.
Within days of saying QZ8501 didn’t have necessary approvals to fly on the day, Indonesia’s authorities yesterday said they transferred officials linked in the alleged breach of permit by the carrier.
Indonesia has five vessels equipped with hydrophones to try and pinpoint the recorders, which are designed to emit a “pinging” for at least 30 days after a plane crashes in water. The U.S., Singapore, Malaysia, China and Russia are among countries helping with the search.
Recovery efforts are focused near Pangkalan Bun, about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of Singapore. The international team set 1,575 square nautical miles (5,400 square kilometers) as the most likely area to find the wreckage.