JAKARTA, Indonesia—Investigators have downloaded data detailing the last 19 flights of a new
jetliner that crashed into the Java Sea, raising confidence Sunday that they will be able to build a picture of what went wrong before its doomed trip with 189 people on board.
The downloads amounted to 69 hours of data from the flight data recorder recovered from the seabed Thursday. Divers were still hunting for a second black box, the cockpit voice recorder, which officials said was likely buried under more than three feet of mud.
“We’re quite confident that the data that we have is the correct data,” said Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee. A detailed analysis of the data would begin Monday, he said.
Investigators have gleaned latitude and longitude data that lines up with information publicly disseminated by tracking networks, Mr. Utomo said.
Information disclosed by Flightradar 24, a tracking network, has shown that the plane encountered possible erratic speed and altitude readings during both the flight on which it crashed Monday, Oct. 29, and the previous flight a day earlier from Bali to Jakarta.
A spokesman for Indonesia’s air-traffic controller said the pilot on the earlier flight requested and received priority landing in Jakarta. Lion Air has said the earlier flight experienced unspecified “technical problems.”
Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in the sea near Jakarta shortly after takeoff. It was the first crash involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, the latest variant of the popular single-aisle 737.
The plane was delivered to Lion Air, one of Asia’s largest low-cost carriers, in August. The Transport Ministry has suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation, a Lion Air director as well as two managers and the engineer who cleared Flight 610 to fly.
The Indonesian investigators are being joined by foreign experts including representatives from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, Boeing Co. and
, a partner in engine manufacturer CFM International.
The download from the memory unit included about 1,800 parameters of data. Flight data recorders track data ranging from basic speed and altitude to the position of flight-control surfaces and flight-control inputs by the crew.
The memory unit of the flight data recorder was found at a depth of about 100 feet and had been stripped from its casing. The cockpit voice recorder has emitted locator pings through the water but has so far eluded divers. The beacons are designed to emit signals for at least 30 days.
“There’s still a signal today, but it’s weak compared with yesterday,” Mr. Utomo said, adding that the recorder was likely buried deep in mud. He said divers had combed the area where the strong signal was heard Saturday without success.
A senior diver, 48-year-old Syahrul Anto, died Friday while searching the scattered wreckage of the aircraft for victims. Mr. Anto was a veteran of other operations including an
crash in the Java Sea nearly four years ago. The national search-and-rescue agency didn’t state a cause of death.
Muhammad Syaugi, head of the search-and-rescue agency, expressed hope that recovery operations could be completed by Wednesday. Crews have been recovering human remains and pieces of the plane, which disintegrated on impact at high speed. On Sunday, they sent remains in 32 body bags to police for identification.
The agency released a map showing the location of the main debris field off the north coast of the island of Java. The left and right turbines and front wheels were found within dozens of yards of each other, while the flight data recorder was recovered about 700 yards away.
The accident is the second-worst Indonesian air disaster, after a
crash that killed 234 in September 1997.
The country has a long history of aviation accidents, and its carriers were restricted for many years from flying to the U.S. and Europe for safety reasons. The last restrictions on Indonesia airlines were lifted in June this year.
Source : WSJ