Indonesian search teams have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed into the Java Sea on October 29, marking a major breakthrough in the investigation into the cause of the disaster that took the lives of all 189 people on board. The Indonesian Navy’s Hydrographic and Oceanographic Center, in collaboration with the country’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT), last week deployed an oceanographic survey ship called the KRI Spica-934 in hopes of detecting acoustic signals from the CVR. Indonesian Navy spokesman Agung Nugroho told Reuters that searchers found the recorder on Monday morning under mud on the sea floor and roughly 150 meters from where crews retrieved the flight data recorder on November 1.
The renewed search mission came 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 had faced renewed concerns over the service life of the CVR’s underwater locator beacon, whose battery officials expected to stop pinging by the end of this month.
On November 28, the KNKT released a preliminary report based on the FDR readouts. 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.