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Divers locate Air Asia QZ8501 fuselage in Java Sea

Jan. 14, 2015, Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia - A Singaporean navy ship has found the crashed AirAsia plane's fuselage, a 30-metre-long section with a wing attached, in the Java Sea, authorities said Wednesday.


January 14, 2015
By The Associated Press

Images taken by a remote-controlled vehicle from the ship showed parts of the plane’s wing and words on the fuselage, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on his Facebook page. He said Indonesian search officials have been notified so they can begin recovery operations.

The fuselage section that was found is 30 metres long and 10 metres wide with a height of 3 metres, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said.

“The fuselage with a wing still attached on it was found in the priority search area and has been confirmed as part of AirAsia plane,” Soelistyo said.

He added it was some 3 kilometres from the tail, which was found earlier, and 800 metres from the black boxes, at a depth of about 28 metres.

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The plane carrying 162 people disappeared from radar on Dec. 28 less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore.

Many of the victims are believed to be entombed in the main section of the aircraft’s cabin.

Nearly all passengers and crew were Indonesian.

Also Wednesday, fishermen found two bodies along with plane seats and debris off the coast off South Kalimantan, bringing to 50 the total of bodies recovered so far.

President Joko Widodo expressed happiness for the discovery, saying that divers would examine the fuselage Thursday.

The plane’s “black boxes” — the flight data recorder and cockpit flight recorder — were retrieved on Monday and Tuesday and will be key to learning what caused the plane to crash. Bad weather is a suspected factor.

The voice recorder captures all conversations between the pilots and with air traffic controllers, as well as any noises in the cockpit, including possible alarms or explosions.

The flight data recorder saves information on the position and condition of almost every major part in the plane, including altitude, airspeed, direction, engine thrust, rate of ascent or descent and what up-or-down angle the plane is pointed.

In their last contact with air-traffic controllers, the pilots of the AirAsia jet asked to climb from 32,000 feet (9,750 metres) to 38,000 feet (11,580 metres) to avoid threatening clouds, but were denied permission because of heavy air traffic. Four minutes later, the plane disappeared. No distress signal was received.