Indonesia team finds crashed Sukhoi's black box
A search team on Tuesday found the black box of a Russian jet that could explain how a veteran pilot last week crashed the new plane into a dormant Indonesian volcano, killing all 45 on board.
"We found the black box at around 10 this morning (0300 GMT)," Ketut Parwa, head of the search operation, told reporters late Tuesday near the crash site at Mount Salak in western Java.
"It was found around 100 metres (328 feet) from where we located the tail."
The team of Indonesian searchers and Russian experts had combed the densely forested mountain for days looking for the black box as questions mounted about whether technical failure or human error may have caused the Sukhoi jet to crash.
Analysts have said the mountainous terrain in western Java was difficult even for the most experienced pilots if they were unfamiliar with area.
The black box, coloured bright orange for visibility, was charred in the crash and will be handed over to the National Committee for Transportation Safety, which is investigating the crash with the help of more than 70 Russian experts.
The plane lost radio contact and disappeared from radar screens last Wednesday shortly after taking off from Jakarta on what was supposed to be a 40-minute exhibition flight to showcase the Superjet.
The crash came amid a promotional tour in Asia, where the aviation industry is growing rapidly.
The twin-engine jet is Russia's first post-Soviet civilian aircraft and was to be the new mascot for the nation's aviation industry, tarnished by ageing planes that even the country's own airline Aeroflot no longer uses.
The aircraft is a joint venture between Sukhoi and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica, which made its first commercial flight last year.
The jet crashed into Mount Salak, which juts 7,200 feet (2,200 metres) into the air, around 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the capital Jakarta.
Rescuers said dismembered bodies of the crash victims were strewn across a section of the mountain, with some falling into a deep ravine.
Victims' remains were flown to Jakarta in body bags for DNA identification, although the search mission was still being carried out.
"The operation on the ground is still ongoing. We have a few more body bags that need to be flown to Jakarta," said Colonel Anton Mukti Putranto, who is leading the search mission.
Russian officials said that a full investigation into the cause of the crash could take up to a year.
© 2012 AFP