Search continues for elusive Flight QZ8501 black boxes

(CNN)The tail section of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 was lifted from the Java Sea on Saturday, but the plane’s cockpit voice and flight recorders, or « black boxes, » were not found.

Indonesian officials said the devices were not with the recovered section.

The plane’s black boxes will likely be found in « a few days, » the crash’s chief investigator said, after searchers were able to hear more pings, even if they haven’t yet pinpointed where they came from.

The investigator, Mardjono Siswosuwarno, told CNN that smaller boats picked up several pings emanating from roughly 500 meters from where the commercial jet’s tail was found.

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« I think we will be able to find the black boxes in a few days, because the location where pings were detected is not very far from the tail, » Siswosuwarno said.

    The search for AirAsia Flight QZ8501A portion of the tail section of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 is seen on Saturday, January 10, on the deck of a rescue ship after it was recovered from the Java Sea. The flight had 162 people on board when it lost contact with air traffic control on December 28.An Indonesian rescue helicopter flies as Indonesian Navy divers conduct search operations in the Java Sea on Friday, January 9.Search operations personnel unload the body of a victim upon arrival at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, on January 9.Members of Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency carry pieces of the jet in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, January 9.There was a major breakthrough in the search for the wreckage on Wednesday, January 7. Indonesian search and rescue officials released an image of the planes tail section as seen on the floor of the Java Sea.Writing can be made out, showing the AirAsia insignia and other identifying features. The find is important because the planes flight recorders were located in the tail section.Divers were sent to take images of the section after metal detectors identified large objects in the water where officials were searching for the lost plane.Search and rescue personnel carry seats from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, on Monday, January 5.An Indonesian navy member holds a piece of window panel from the jet recovered during search operations.Crew members in an Indonesian air force helicopter look out of the windows over the Java Sea during a search operation on Sunday, January 4. Crew members in an Indonesian air force helicopter look out of the windows over the Java Sea during a search operation on Sunday, January 4. Members of an Indonesian search and rescue team carry items recovered from the search area in Pangkalan Bun on January 4.Members of the Mawar Sharon Church attend a prayer service for the relatives of lost loved ones January 4 in Surabaya, Indonesia.Indonesian navy officers coordinate the recovery of bodies taken to the vessel KRI Banda Aceh during recovery operations on Saturday, January 3.Members of the Indonesian navy return to the vessel with remains recovered from the crash area.Recovered victims are placed on the deck of the Indonesian ship on January 3. Members of an Indonesian search team carry a coffin at Iskandar Air Base on Friday, January 2.Relatives and friends grieve as they attend a ceremony January 2 in Surabaya.A member of the Indonesian Red Cross prepares coffins at a hospital in Pangkalan Bun on January 2. Members of the National Search and Rescue Agency and Indonesian soldiers carry coffins containing bodies of victims in Pangkalan Bun on January 2.This photograph released by the Singapore Defense Ministry shows the front and back of a piece of debris that resembles an aircraft window panel.Members of a search and rescue team carry the body of a victim in Pangkalan Bun on Thursday, January 1.Marine divers prepare their gear on the deck of a ship before searching for passengers and debris January 1 at Kumai port in Pangkalan Bun.Indonesian soldiers carry a victims coffin upon arrival at an air force base in Surabaya on Wednesday, December 31.Indonesian soldiers carry coffins of crash victims on December 31.Relatives of passengers pray together inside a holding room at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya on December 31.Indonesian air force personnel show debris, including a suitcase, that was found floating near the site where the AirAsia flight disappeared.Debris floats in the Java Sea on December 30.A member of the Indonesian navy monitors a radar screen during a search operation over the waters near Bangka Island, Indonesia, on December 30.Family members of missing passengers react at an airport in Surabaya after watching news reports on December 30.Debris floats in the Java Sea on December 30.Relatives of missing passengers comfort each other December 30 at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya.Relatives gather at Juanda International Airport as they wait for news on December 30.An Indonesian military airman looks out the window of an airplane during a search over the waters of Karimata Strait on Monday, December 29.Members of Indonesias Marine Police pray before a search operation on December 29.Military personnel perform a search operation on Sunday, December 28.Sunu Widyatmoko, CEO of Indonesia AirAsia, gives a press conference in Surabaya announcing that the flight lost contact with air traffic control.An official from Indonesias national search and rescue agency points to the position where AirAsia Flight QZ8501 went missing.01 airasia 011002 airasia 011003 airasia 011004 airasia 0110AirAsia tail section underwater imageAirAsia tail section 3 underwaterAirAsia tail section 2 underwater01 airasia 010502 airasia 010501 airasia 010402 airasia 010404 airasia 010401 airasia 010302 airasia 010303 airasia 010303 airasia search 01021502 airasia search 01021502 airasia 010201 airasia 010201 airasia debris 010201 airasia 010102 airasia 010101 airasia 123102 airasia 123103 airasia 123104 airasia 123005 airasia 123001 airasia 1230airasia relative107 airasia 1230airasia relative1relatives 201 airasia 122904 airasia 122908 airasia 1228 RESTRICTED07 airasia 122802 airasia 1228

    This wouldn’t be a major surprise, since the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were housed in the Airbus A320-200’s tail.

    The data recorder provides a wide range of information about what the plane was doing, from its air speed to the position of the landing gear, said Greg Waldron, the managing editor of Flightglobal, an aviation industry website. The cockpit voice recorder captures communications between the pilots.

    The aircraft went down on December 28 with 162 people on board. The plane’s pilot had asked to change course and climb to a higher altitude minutes before contact was lost, Indonesian officials said.

    Unlike Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — which went missing last March and still hasn’t been located — remnants of Flight QZ8501 were spotted within days.

    More recently, a search vessel detected pings like those that might come from the black boxes, Indonesian armed forces head Gen. Moeldoko said. Batteries that send out the pings last 30 days. It has been 13 days since the AirAsia plane fell into the sea.

    But there was caution about these signals, since the sound could be emanating from other sources — as happened with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

    After being spotted earlier this week, onlookers clapped as an underwater balloon started heaving a submerged tail section onto an awaiting ship.

    That ship, the Crest Onyx, will take it toward Kumai harbor and eventually to shore.

    That’s where investigators will examine the tail and look for the black boxes.

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    A total of 48 bodies have been recovered so far, according to Indonesia’s search and rescue agency.

    The vast majority of the people on AirAsia QZ8501 were Indonesian. There were also citizens of Britain, France, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

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