By Andrea Romano
January 14, 2019
Commander of Indonesian Navy Western Fleet Rear Admiral Yudo Margono shows the newly recovered cockpit voice recorder of Lion Air flight 610 that crashed into the sea in October during a press conference on board of Navy ship KRI Spica in the waters of Tanjung Karawang, Indonesia, . Navy divers found the device beneath 8 meters (26 feet) of seabed mud, Indonesian officials said Monday.
Achmad Ibrahim/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The “black box” voice recorder from the ill-fated Lion Air flight that crashed last year has been located in the Java Sea by Indonesian Navy divers, Fox News reported. While the incident was a terrible loss, investigators claim this new development is a small bit of good news.

The bright orange box — not actually black like the name would indicate — was found under 26 feet of seabed mud, according Lt. Col. Agung Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia Navy’s western fleet, speaking to Fox News.

The crash of Lion Air’s Flight 610 from Jakarta on Oct. 29, 2018 has puzzled investigators up until now. Only minutes after take off, according to The New York Times, the Boeing 737 ended up nose diving into the Java Sea. Unfortunately, there were no survivors of the crash.

Investigators have theorized that the crash may have been caused by an update to the 737’s safety systems. Inaccurate data or a data misfiring could have lead to a malfunction in the sensors on the fuselage (plane’s body), which may have resulted in the crash, according to The New York Times.

In addition, The New York Times reported that Boeing has come under fire after the crash for its mad dash in selling new planes with these updated systems to compete with the Airbus 320. Pilots have told Time that Boeing did not update the plane’s operations manual as the upgrades were rolled out, leaving them in the dark about new features.

“This is not about silos and layers of bureaucracy, this is about knowing your airplane. We will always be eager and aggressive in gaining any knowledge of new aircraft,” said Dennis Tajer, a 737 captain and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association at American Airlines Group Inc., to Time.

But the newly-discovered voice recorder bodes well for investigators looking for answers. Of course, since the box was not found in mint condition, answers about the crash remain up in the air.

According to the BBC, the box was found “broken into two pieces.” However, the contents inside may still be undamaged. The box has been handed over to Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, where investigators are working to recover information from the recorder.

Soerjanto Tjahjono, the transport committee chairman, said it may take three to five days to know if the material is useable.

Black box is a decades old technology, so it’s a wonder that the devices are still in use. However, according to Captain John Cox writing for USA Today, the older technology may still be more reliable than using something new, like sending streaming data.

“While technically possible, there are significant issues with real-time up-streaming of data. Who owns the data? What can it be used for? Can it be hacked? The Digital Flight Data and Cockpit Voice recorders have proven to be very successful over the decades. There is reluctance to lose this proven technology,” Cox writes.

He also points out that more often than not, black boxes are useful in providing data on crashes.

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