Search Resumes for CVR from Doomed Lion Air 737

 - January 11, 2019, 9:04 AM

Indonesian teams have resumed efforts to locate the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from the Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed into the Java Sea on October 29. The Indonesian Navy's Hydrographic and Oceanographic Center, in collaboration with the country’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT), has deployed an oceanographic survey ship called the KRI Spica-934 in hopes of detecting acoustic signals from the CVR, believed submerged in mud and located some 150 feet from where search crews retrieved the flight data recorder (FDR).

Equipment on board the ship includes a multibeam echosounder (MBES), a parametric sub-bottom profiler (SBP), a magnetometer, a side scan sonar, an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP), and high precision acoustic positioning (HIPAP) equipment. Indonesian teams will also deploy a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to sweep the seabed.

The renewed search mission comes after Lion Air ended its own search for the CVR just before midnight on December 29. In mid-December, the airliner chartered an offshore supply ship, the MPV Everest, from a Dutch Firm for an estimated cost of $2.62 million.

Strong currents, inclement weather, and interference from communication cables and oil pipelines in the area hampered previous efforts to mobilize search teams and locate the CVR.

Indonesian teams now face renewed concerns over whether they will succeed in locating the CVR, which holds vital information that could give investigators insight into the actions of the pilots in the last moments of flight JT610. Officials expect the battery of the underwater locator beacon (ULB) fitted to the CVR to stop pinging by the end of January.

On November 28, the KNKT released a preliminary report based on readouts from the digital flight data recorder (DFDR) crews retrieved from the seabed on November 1. The 78-page document details how the pilots repeatedly struggled to override the airplane’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) over the course of the flight. Pilots flying the same aircraft a day earlier encountered the same phenomenon while traveling from Denpasar to Jakarta, but they managed to gain control by shutting down the MCAS and flying manually to their destination. 

In response to KNKT’s findings, Boeing issued its own statement and said the report failed to include vital information, including installation records of the AOA sensor replaced before the October 28 flight. Boeing also said the report failed to indicate whether or not the pilots of flight JT610 performed the runaway stabilizer procedure or cut out the stabilizer trim switches as did the pilots of the Denpasar-Jakarta flight on October 28.