Jakarta/Singapore: The tail of the AirAsia jet that went down with 162 people on board was found today in the Java Sea even as a signal was detected by divers, raising hopes of a breakthrough in recovering the plane’s crucial black box to determine the cause of the mysterious crash.
“We’ve found the tail that has been our main target,” Bambang Soelistyo, head of the search and rescue agency, told a news conference in Jakarta.
“I can confirm that what we found was the tail part from the pictures,” he said adding the search team “now is still desperately trying to locate the black box”.
“I can ensure that this is part of the tail with the AirAsia mark on it,” he said. Search authorities confirmed that a signal was detected in the tail, but divers could not re-detect that signal, Singapore’s Channel News Asia reported.
Underwater photographs were exhibited showing partial lettering on the wreckage on the seabed compared with a picture of an intact AirAsia Airbus A320-200.
The tail section was found 30 kms from the plane’s last known location 10 days ago. The tail is where the black box is located. The black box contains the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.
The black box is considered the key piece of evidence when it comes to investigating a commercial plane disaster as they provide valuable information, from a plane’s air speed to the position of the landing gear, to pilot communications.
The tail was identified by divers after it was spotted by an underwater machine using a sonar scan, Soelistyo said.
AirAsia Flight QZ8501 plunged into the water off Borneo island about 40 minutes into a two-hour flight from Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya en route to Singapore on December 28.
No survivors have been found while 40 bodies have been recovered so far but officials believe most of the remaining bodies could still be trapped inside the plane’s fuselage.
Soelistyo said divers were preparing to go back underwater in the same area, which is in one of the priority zones where search efforts have been focused.
Powerful currents and murky water continue to hinder the operation, but searchers managed to get a photograph of the debris about 9 kms from where the flight lost contact after it was detected by an Indonesian survey ship, he said.
Searchers have been scouring the choppy waters of the Java Sea for remains from the commercial jet since it lost contact.