The emergency locator transmitter for the crashed AirAsia Flight 8501 has been found on Monday, along with seven more bodies. This discovery puts the last crucial piece in place as search teams and aviation experts puzzle over why the equipment hadn’t been found until now. Despite the Indonesia government officially calling off search efforts, the information from the transmitter can help remaining retrieval teams with their body search.
“On Sunday, a local fisherman found the ELT in waters near a beach in Mamuju regency. It seems the ELT can no longer function, however,” Muhammad Rizal, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency said, according to the Jakarta Post. Locals found a box emblazoned with the words “emergency locator transmitter,” along with sections of the aircraft, near Mamuju in West Sulawesi.
The ELT is designed to activate when an aircraft crashes onto land or into water, where it will emit location signals via satellite to search and rescue agencies. However, Flight 8501’s malfunction might mean that authorities might not be able to accurately determine the plane’s final position before the crash.
During the frantic search for the aircraft since it crashed on Dec. 28, aviation experts were wondering why the ELT wasn't transmitting as the plane went down. “It’s pretty bad luck if that doesn’t work. It’s not intended to be disabled. Even if you disconnect the power entirely it’s still got a battery in it,” Australian aviation security expert Cpt. Des Ross told News.com.au during the early days of the search. “They’re normally pretty reliable devices, and yet we’re not hearing anything about it [in the case of Flight 8501] or in MH370.”
Indonesian divers said they have found seven more bodies, bringing the total to 84. The team said 64 of the bodies have been identified, with the latest seven sent to Bhayankara Hospital in Surabaya. However, 78 of the 162 passengers on board the flight from Surabaya to Singapore remain to be found. The plane was thought to have hit storm clouds, according to flight controllers in the area. Inclement weather and a less-experienced co-pilot might have caused the plane to climb too fast and stall before nose-diving, according to reports. Investigators are still waiting for more information from the flight data recorder and the cockpit recorder, which were found recently in the sea.