Indonesia recovers cockpit voice recorder of crashed Sriwijaya Air jet


National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) officials place the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of Sriwijaya Air flight SJ 182 on a table at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 31, 2021. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

JAKARTA (Reuters) -Indonesia has recovered the cockpit voice recorder from a Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea in January, and the air accident investigator said on Wednesday it could take up to a week to be able to listen to the recording.

The CVR could help investigators understand the actions taken by the pilots of the doomed jet, which crashed shortly after take-off on Jan. 9, killing all 62 people on board.

A preliminary report by investigators released in February said the plane had an imbalance in engine thrust that eventually led it into a sharp roll and then a final dive into the sea. The report included information from the flight data recorder (FDR).

Divers found the casing and beacon of the CVR from the 26-year-old Boeing Co 737-500 within days of the crash but had been searching for the memory unit in relatively shallow but muddy waters, where currents are sometimes strong.

The CVR of flight SJ182 was located late on Tuesday, Indonesia's transport minister told a news conference.

It was found in mud sucked up by a dredging ship and is being dried out and cleaned of mud and salt because it has been at sea for a long time, Indonesia National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) investigator Nurcahyo Utomo said.

He said the memory unit had not been damaged by the impact.

"We will take CVR to lab for reading, about three days to one week," KNKT head Soerjanto Tjahjono said. "After that we'll transcribe and match it to FDR. Without a CVR, in the Sriwijaya 182 case it would be very difficult to determine the cause."

Safety experts say most air accidents are caused by a combination of factors that can take months to establish. Under international standards, the final report is due within a year of the crash.

If it is not ready by then, Indonesia could release an interim report that includes the CVR analysis, Nurcahyo said.

"We hope everything will be clear, we will know what had happened to the flight, what happened when it was in the air before SJ182 fell," said Ardi Samuel Cornelis Wadu, the brother of a flight attendant who died in the crash.

(Additional reporting by Stanley Widianto in Jakarta and Sultan Anshori in Denpasar; writing by Jamie Freed; editing by Ed Davies and Nick Tattersall)

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