The landing gear from the Lion Air plane that crashed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29, killing 189 people, was found by search teams along with part of the airplane’s body.
Muhammad Syauqi, the head of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency, said that the landing gear was found by teams in the sea after a new strategy was used, centering on a ship belonging to an oil company whose ship’s crew was familiar with the area.
In addition, a remotely operated vehicle was used, Syaqi told reporters, reported CNN.
He said that divers from his agency, the Navy, and the police swept the area and a ship crane would be used on Nov. 2, to lift up the landing gear pieces.
A large piece of the aircraft body that was located will also be lifted up, he said.
The discoveries came after the aircraft’s black box was found among debris on the seafloor. “We dug and we got the black box,” a diver, identified as Hendra, told broadcaster Metro TV on board a search vessel, the Baruna Jaya, describing how his team found the orange-colored box intact in debris on the muddy seafloor.
Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of the National Transportation Safety Committee, said a preliminary accident report should be released within a month and the final report could take four to six months.
New Details Highlight Lion Air Jet’s Problems
New details about the crashed Lion Air jet’s previous flight have emerged, casting more doubt on the Indonesian airline’s claim that it fixed technical problems that cropped up.
The brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane took a flight the day before crashing into the sea. Passengers described long waits before the plane even took off and stunning drops in altitude after it did, likening it to a “roller coaster.”
Herson, head of the Bali-Nusa Tenggara Airport Authority, said the pilot on the plane’s previous flight on Sunday from Bali requested to return to the airport not long after takeoff but then reported the problem had been resolved.
Lion Air has said the unspecified problem was fixed after the flight, but the fatal flight’s pilots also made a “return to base” request not long after takeoff.
“Shortly after requesting RTB, the pilot then contacted the control tower again to inform that the plane had run normally and would not return” to Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport on Sunday, said Herson, who uses a single name. “The captain said the problem was resolved and he decided to continue the trip to Jakarta.”
Data from flight-tracking websites show both flights had highly erratic speed and altitude after takeoff, though confirmation is required from data recorded by the aircraft’s “black box” flight recorders.
Indonesia’s Tempo news website published a minute-by-minute summary of what it said were the conversations between air traffic control and the pilots of Monday’s fatal flight, who reported a “flight control problem” and were unsure of their altitude. Asked about the accuracy of the report, National Transportation Safety Committee deputy head Haryo Satmiko said it had “similarities” with the information received “legally” by investigators.
Satmiko said investigators had already contacted the pilot of the plane’s Sunday flight. The problems with it were “just as it circulates on media and social media,” he said, referring to accounts of passengers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.