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Lion Air charters ship to search for JT610 recorder

Lion Air has chartered a ship from a Dutch company to assist in the search for the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) of JT610, a Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed on 29 October.

The low-cost operator said in a statement that the ship, MPV Everest, will arrive in the Indonesian town of Karawang on 19 December, after departing the Malaysian city of Johor Bahru on 17 December.

Lion Air did not specify the length of the ship's charter, but estimates costs related to the search for the CVR at Rp38 billion ($2.62 million).

"The continued search effort is a form of Lion Air's commitment, and is based on requests from family members," says the airline.

The carrier's direct involvement in the search for the CVR comes after an 11 December Reuters report indicated that Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) has faced budgetary constraints and bureaucratic hurdles in its attempts to raise the main aircraft wreckage and locate the CVR.

The flight data recorder was recovered on 2 November, three days after the crash. Data drawn from the device featured in the 28 November preliminary report.

An anonymous source told Reuters that the NTSC has "no further funds to rent the ship," making a reference to the need to obtain specialised equipment for the search.

The source goes on to say that the NTSC does not have any emergency funds allocated, as "there is no legal basis".

"We have already asked the coordinating minister for the economy, but there is no regulation and it would need to be discussed by the parliament," the source added in the Reuters report.

Lion Air's insurers were also reportedly reluctant to pay for the search, which also led to the airline's direct involvement. NTSC officials will also oversee "all operations on board" the ship, despite obtaining funding from Lion Air.

The Lion Air jet, registered PK-LQP, was operating flight JT610 from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International airport to Pangkal Pinang when it crashed into the sea near the town of Karawang. There were 189 on board.

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