Indonesian divers found the main wreckage of the Lion Air plane that crashed into the Java Sea, a breakthrough in a week-long search for victims and the cockpit voice recorder that holds the key to unraveling the reason for the accident.
Divers who have been scouring a 270-square-mile area since the jet crashed on Oct. 29 spotted the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet’s fuselage on Saturday, M. Syaugi, the chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters in Jakarta on Saturday. The search crew is focused on retrieving the wreckage now, he said.
“We have made major breakthroughs as we have recovered two turbines, one wheel,” Syaugi said. “There are reports of team members seeing the body of the plane.”
Indonesian search crews have recovered a flight data recorder, both the engines, a part of the landing gear, body parts of victims and personal belongings since Lion Air flight JT610 carrying 189 people plunged into the sea.
Ping locators also picked a faint signal from possibly the cockpit voice recorder, Syaugi said. A diver, who was volunteering in the search operations, died on Friday, he said.
The plane nosed downward so abruptly that it may have hit speeds of 600 miles per hour or more before slamming into the sea, according to three experts who made calculations based on preliminary flight-tracking data.
It dived with little or no turns and its nose was pointed about 45 degrees below the horizon shortly before the impact, an unusually steep dive for an airliner, according to the analysis of data provided by flight-tracking company FlightRadar24.
The plane’s speed will eventually be confirmed by the recovered flight-data recorder, which has not yet been analyzed. Indonesian officials haven’t released any specific details about the aircraft’s track or speed. The crash occurred shortly after the plane took off on a flight from Jakarta to Pangkalpinang.
FlightRadar24’s data, which was captured from the plane’s radio transmissions, suggests that the jet was moving at about 630 mph (1,014 kilometers) per hour moments before it hit the Java Sea.
The estimate was first computed by Scott Dunham, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, who combined the distance the plane traveled horizontally and vertically to arrive at a speed estimate. Dunham, who participated in the 2003 investigation into the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia and dozens of aircraft accident inquiries, conducted the analysis at the request of Bloomberg News.