Hunt for crashed plane’s voice recorder
Jakarta, Jan 13: Divers searching for a crashed jet’s cockpit voice recorder were sifting through mud and plane debris on the seabed between Indonesian islands on Wednesday to retrieve information key to learning why the Sriwijaya Air jet nosedived into the Java Sea over the weekend.
Indonesian navy divers on Tuesday recovered the flight data recorder from the jet that disappeared on Saturday, minutes after taking off from Jakarta with 62 people aboard. The information on both black boxes will be key to the crash investigation.
The 26-year-old Boeing 737-500 had resumed commercial flights last month after almost nine months out of service because of flight cutbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The US Federal Aviation Administration sent an airworthiness directive requiring operators of various Boeing 737 aircraft models, including the 737-500, to carry out engine checks before they can be flown again after being out of service. The order followed reports of engines shutting down in mid-flight because of corrosion in a key valve.
Director General of Air Transportation Novie Riyanto said the plane was inspected on December 2, including checks for engine corrosion, and was declared airworthy by Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry on December 14. It resumed commercial flights on December 22, according to ministry data.
Aviation experts said planes that are parked for long stretches can be returned to flight safely. “It depends on how the airline maintains the aircraft while it is grounded,” said William Waldock, an aviation-safety expert at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. He said airlines should run engines periodically and perform other maintenance.
John Goglia, a former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board, said preparing a long-grounded jet can be an intensive and expensive chore, taking a team of mechanics up to two weeks to check engines and make sure that electronic, hydraulic and fuel systems are operating and free of contamination.
Goglia said that his initial thought on learning about the plane’s long grounding “was if they did the proper due diligence, because sometimes that stuff doesn’t show up for a little while.” (AP)