Indonesians retrieve missing recorder from crashed Russian jet

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Villagers assisting recovery efforts for a Russian passenger jet that crashed in Indonesia have found the aircraft's missing flight data recorder. All 45 on board were killed when the Sukhoi Superjet 100 crashed during a demonstration flight earlier this month.

Sukhoi's first-ever Superjet 100 on display, from file. Credit:Marina Lystseva

The cockpit voice recorder was found several days after the plane hit Mount Salak, West Java on May 9. A landslide triggered by the impact had concealed the flight data recorder, but it was uncovered today after recent rains removed some of the soil it was under. "It seems to be intact," said Ketut Purwa, who is leading the recovery. It was sent to Jakarta for examination.

The recorder was found in a ravine 30 metres from the tail, which was also located by villagers. It contains a log of technical data from the 40-minute demonstration, which aimed to attract Indonesian airlines to buy Superjet 100s.

Tatang Kurniadi, head of the National Transportation Safety Committee, explained "The FDR emits a signal for up to a month but only if it's underwater. It doesn't work on land". In addition to the Indonesian investigation, Russian authorities have launched a criminal probe. The dead include eight Russians. Kurniadi also said work to complete an Indonesian translation of the voice recorder transcript is nearing completion.

The aircraft had asked for permission to descend to 6,000 feet shortly before the crash. It then hit the 7,200-foot mountain near Jakarta. In the midst of an Asian tour, Sukhoi had placed an experienced pilot in charge of the plane.

The Superjet 100 is intended to reinvigorate the Russian aviation industry, and is the nation's first new airliner since the Soviet era. With a maiden flight in 2008, it entered service last year and Sukhoi boasts 200 orders. The twin-engine jet seats around 100 and costs buyers US$31.7 million.

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