Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
A multi-national salvage team has retrieved the black box of the Adam Air airliner that crashed in waters off Sulawesi at the start of the year en route from Surabaya to Manado.
The black box is hope to reveal the causes of the Jan. 1 accident that killed all 102 people on board.
""The team has succeeded in salvaging the black box, which consists of the flight data and cockpit voice recorders from the bottom of the Majene sea (West Sulawesi),"" National Transportation Safety Commission chairman Tatang Kurniadi said here Tuesday.
Investigators believe that the recorders are still 'readable' despite nearly eight months underwater.
""But it will take months for experts at the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, U.S., to analyze the information.""
U.S. vessel company Phoenix International assisted the team with a robotic salvaging system, Tatang said, as the company had already had experience in retrieving much larger items, such as submarines and helicopters.
The Indonesian Navy had previously tried to find the box, but did not have the necessary equipment.
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were found about 30 to 50 meters from each other at depths of 2,000 meters and 1,900 meters respectively. It took the robots around three hours to return them to the boat.
Both recorders, which were brought back to the ship on Monday and Tuesday, were immediately immersed in a container of water in order to keep them functioning.
The black box will be shipped to the U.S. from Makassar Port in South Sulawesi.
The salvage team, which consists of personnel from the U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration among others, discovered more debris from the crashed 737-400, but no human remains or the plane's cockpit.
The Indonesian government has spent around Rp 20 billion (more than US$2 million) to find the black box.
Adam Air chairman Adam A. Suherman, however, said that the total cost of the project was around $3 million. ""We haven't calculated the cost that (our company) needs to pay yet.""
Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said that finding the cause of the failure was important in order to prevent future accidents.
A string of airplane accidents in Indonesia, including a Garuda Indonesia jetliner crash in Yogyakarta in March that killed 21, have prompted the European Union to prohibit Indonesian airlines from flying in EU airspace.
A delegation from Indonesia is currently in Brussels, Belgium, to convince EU country members that local civil aviation authorities have made safety improvements.