Tail of AirAsia jet found, black boxes still missing

by Staff |

(REUTERS/Enny Nuraheni)An Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320-200 passenger prepares to land at Sukarno-Hatta airport in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta Jan. 30, 2013. AirAsia Bhd, Asia's largest budget airline by passengers, reported a net profit of 1.9 billion Malaysian ringgit (3.10 million) in the full year 2012, up more than two-fold compared to the previous year.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (Christian Examiner) -- Although the tail portion of AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 has now been located, the black box which is usually at the back of the plane still has not been found. The rear section of the jet was found about 20 miles from the plane's last known location over the Java Sea.

Investigators have been searching for the black boxes of Airbus A320-200 since the plane went down Dec. 28. The black boxes contain crucial information about what happened during the flight like cockpit conversations and other flight data.

"We've found the tail that has been our main target," Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of the search and rescue agency, told a news conference in Jakarta.

The tail was first "pinged" by a sonar scan on a naval vessel alongside other plane debris. Soelistyo showed underwater photographs confirming the search team's findings.

"I can confirm that what we found was the tail part from the pictures," he said, adding that officials are "now is still desperately trying to locate the black box."

The search for the black box has been expanded to two nautical miles from where the tail was located.

The flight's approval status to travel from Surabaya to Singapore has also been called into question. While the AirBus A320 was approved to fly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays but was allowed to take off on Sunday, Dec. 28, Indonesian officials revealed.

During the flight, the pilots requested permission to fly at higher altitudes to avoid the storm, but the request was denied because other airplanes were in the area.

Teams have searched for 11 days so far, with 20 planes and helicopters assisting 20 ships to find bodies and wreckage about 160 kilometers off the coast of Borneo, Reuters reported. 162 passengers were aboard when AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 crashed into the Java Sea, and so far 37 bodies have been recovered and 13 of them have been identified.

Reuters contributed to this report.