Thursday, January 25, 2007

Adam Air flight 574 flight data recorder found?

The major news services are reporting today that the flight data recorder from Adam Air Flight 574 may have been located. The aircraft, a Boeing 737-400, disappeared on New Year's Day during a domestic flight in Indonesia. It is believed to have crashed, although only small pieces of wreckage have been found so far. The flight had 102 souls on board, and while no bodies have been found, all are presumed to have perished.

A Reuters article on says that signals believed to be coming from the downed jetliner's flight data recorder have been detected by an American ship that has been assisting with the search. The USNS Mary Sears, an oceanographic survey ship with specialized equipment, found heavy debris scattered over a wide area and was analyzing the data.
"During the search of the projected crash site of Adam Air Flight 574, the Mary Sears, using a Towed Pinger Locator, detected pingers on the same frequency of the black box associated with the missing airplane," the US embassy said in a statement.
An Associated Press article, published on the CBS News website and elsewhere, elaborates:
The hull of the aircraft has not yet been recovered, but the statement said the Mary Sears "detected heavy debris scattered over a wide area" close to where the signals were coming from.

Eddy Suyanto, the Indonesian air force commander in charge of the search and rescue mission, said he had not been formally told of the ship's findings.

"One thing is for sure, up until this second, I have not received any report from the (Indonesian) liaison officers who were on board the ship," he said.
The device may indeed have been located, but retrieving it from the depths of the sea may be another thing entirely. According to an an article on the BBC News website:
Officials said the government would now have to decide whether to try and retrieve the boxes from the ocean bed.

"We do not have the technology to retrieve the black boxes," Setio Rahardjo, chairman of the National Commission on Transport Safety told AFP news agency.

"Assuming we have the funds, then we have to ask for a country who has sophisticated technology, such as the US," he added.
I will continue to post key developments in the story of Adam Air flight 574 as they occur.

UPDATE Jan. 26, 2007: The Associated Press is reporting that Indonesia will attempt to retrieve the flight data recorder from Adam Air flight 574 from the sea floor. Since the water at the site where signals from the device were detected is so deep, the operation might turn out to be prohibitively expensive. Nevertheless, Adam Air spokesman Ali Leonardi said, "If the signals really were from the black boxes and the technology is available to retrieve them, we will keep on trying. It does not matter what the cost."