QZ8501: Aircraft tail discovery raises black box hopes

Flight QZ8501 is the first fatal accident ever suffered by AirAsia
QZ8501 was carrying 162 passengers and crew

Search teams have located the tail section of AirAsia flight QZ8501, raising hopes that the aircraft’s black boxes might soon be recovered.

Vice Marshall FHB Soelistyo, who heads up Indonesia’s Indonesia’s Search & Rescue Agency (Basarnas), was reported by the Antara news agency as saying that the discovery of the tailfin “has been confirmed”. It was located in the “second additional priority sector”, which follows an eastward shift in the search area undertaken this week.

The discovery of the tail section could be a major step forward as this is where the aircraft’s black boxes – the flight data and cockpit voice recorders – are housed.

In one of his regular Twitter posts, AirAsia’s group CEO Tony Fernandes confirmed the news.

There have been no reports however, of search teams having picked up any signals from the black boxes. Special ‘pinger locators’ are being used by Basarnas to detect the emergency signals that the black boxes start emitting following a crash.

Meanwhile, 40 bodies have now been recovered from the sea, 11 days after the aircraft crashed. That means that 122 victims remain unaccounted for. Basarnas added that 12 pieces of debris were also recovered, although it has not been revealed what these are. Previous discoveries have included parts of the aircraft fuselage, seats and oxygen masks.

Flight QZ8501 was carrying 162 passengers and crew from Surabaya to Singapore on 28 December when it crashed into the sea between the Bangka Betilung Islands and the southwest coast of Borneo. Bad weather has been cited as the most likely cause of the incident.

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