Indonesian authorities announced on Thursday they will halt their search for further victims of the Sriwijaya Air plane that crashed into the Java Sea earlier this month.
However, divers will continue to search for the plane’s cockpit voice recorder (CVR), which investigators believe could be key to understanding the cause of the fatal crash, which killed all 62 people on board.
Flight SJ 183, a Boeing 737-500, crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after take-off from Jakarta on Saturday, 9 January 2021.
“Search operations have been closed, but we will continue to search for the CVR,” said Bagus Puruhito, the head of Indonesia’s search and resume agency.
Puruhito told the media that the rescue team to date had collected over 324 bags of body parts and plane parts.
The CVR is thought to be key in understanding the cause of the plane crash, and will pair with the information already recovered from the aircraft’s flight data recorder (FDR).
Earlier this week, World of Aviation reported that divers had found the CVR’s casing, however authorities at the time stated they were still searching for the device’s memory unit.
Naval officer Abdul Rasyid told reporters that the device could contain vital information on the conversations and actions of the pilots in the minutes prior to the crash.
At the time, Rasyid said investigators were expecting to find the memory unit “within days”, however as of today, the unit is still yet to be located.
National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) Investigator Nurcayho Utomo said, “We are really hoping the CVR could be found to support the data we recovered from FDR.”
Last week, divers recovered the 26-year-old plane’s FDR, which contained over 300 parameters of information on the plane’s location, speed, engine power and flaps configurations..
All 330 parameters are in “good condition”, according to the KNKT.
The Indonesian investigators were able to confirm that both the aircraft’s engines were still in operation when the plane hit the water, as it had earlier hypothesised based on the wreckage found.
The plane had been out of service for nine months in 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both the airline and Indonesian officials have said the plane was inspected prior to its return to service in December, including checks for possible engine erosion – an outcome previously flagged by Boeing and the FAA as possible when 737s are parked for over seven days.
The KNKT said it plans to issue its preliminary report on the crash within 30 days of the incident, in line with international standards.