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Indonesia's aviation safety agency to publish preliminary report into New Year's Day Adam Air crash despite failure to locate black boxes

The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from an Adam Air Boeing 737-400 that crashed on 1 January into the sea in Indonesia have yet to be recovered but despite this the country's aviation safety agency is pushing the airline to arrange for their retrieval and still plans to issue a report and put forward a probable cause for the crash.

Frans Wenas, the lead investigator from Indonesia's national transportation safety committee KNKT says the onus is now on the airline to select a contractor and pay for the recorders to be recovered. But the KNKT “cannot put it as a requirement [that Adam Air recover the recorders] so it is still voluntary”.

Adam Air has been negotiating with private-sector service providers to recover the recorders.

“I heard there are some suggested invoices but no final decision because they are still negotiating because of the high price,” says Wenas.

He confirms the KNKT is unable to pay and instead wants Adam Air to sign the contract and pay for it although he adds the salvage operation will still fall under the KNKT's authority.

The Adam Air 737-400 crashed into the sea on 1 January while en route from Surabaya to Manado and the recorders are at a depth of 2,000m (1,100 fathoms) in Indonesia’s Makasar Strait.

The KNKT, with the help of a US Navy oceanographic survey ship, was earlier able to pinpoint the recorders’ location by detecting their transmitter beacons, says Wenas, adding that the beacons normally last for 30 days, meaning those on the Adam Air aircraft would have lasted until the first week of February.

NTSC has global positioning system co-ordinates for the recorders and at such depths “there is less drift” so they are unlikely to move, he adds.

Even if the KNKT is unable to recover the recorders it still plans to issue a report.

“We already have some other facts and findings that have given us some clues. There will be an analysis and a probable cause” given, says Wenas, who fails to elaborate.

Adam Air president Adam Suherman says he has been negotiating with two companies and will be choosing one to carry out the salvage mission.

One of the two short-listed is Phoenix International, a US company based in Washington, DC that was the sub-contractor to the US Navy vessel that helped with the earlier mission.

Currently Adam Air is also busy dealing with the fallout from an incident on 21 February in which a 737-300, registered as PK-KKV, landed hard on the runway at Surabaya resulting in the mid-fuselage buckling.

Indonesia’s Directorate General Air Communications responded to the latest incident by grounding Adam Air’s other six 737-300s but Suherman told ATI today that all six have since been released and five are now operating.

One is undergoing a heavy maintenance check at maintenance, repair and overhaul firm GMF AeroAsia, adds Suherman.

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