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Indonesia checking black box for clues to plane tragedy

(AFP) – Indonesian authorities say they are analyzing the black box data in search for clues to a plane crash that left 189 killed this past Monday.

Authorities also said operations to haul seats, wheels and other parts of the Lion Air jet from the depths of the Java Sea were completed on Friday.

Search teams had been scouring the seabed for the fuselage of the Boeing-737 MAX 8, which plunged into the waters off Indonesia’s northern coast shortly after takeoff Monday despite only having been in service a few months.

“There is a lot of little debris, plane wheels, and seats — all totally destroyed and in pieces,” said Isswarto, the commander of the Indonesian Navy’s search-and-rescue division.

Divers were searching an area about 25-35 meters deep, but found fewer body parts than earlier in the week, he added.

“They’re scattered everywhere and some may have been washed away by the current.”

Television images showed divers tying ropes to twisted plane parts scattered along the seafloor, as navy personnel hauled a pair of wheels from the jet aboard a ship.

Search teams have also determined the location of part of the plane’s engine, authorities said.

On Thursday, one of the plane’s black boxes, which airlines are required to install in jets, was recovered as well as parts of its landing gear.

The black box could offer investigators their best chance of discovering why such a new jet crashed. The devices could help explain nearly 90 percent of all crashes, according to aviation experts.

The devices record information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane as well as flight crew conversations.

The single-aisle Boeing plane, en route from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang city, is one of the world’s newest and most advanced commercial passenger jets.

Lion Air’s admission that the jet had a technical issue on a previous flight — as well its abrupt fatal dive — have raised questions about whether it had mechanical faults such as a speed-and-altitude system malfunction.

The accident has also resurrected concerns about Indonesia’s poor air safety record which until recently saw its carriers facing years-long bans from entering European Union and US airspace.

Indonesia has had nearly 40 fatal aviation accidents in the past 15 years, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

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