Lion Air 737 cockpit recorder retrieved, aircraft to be cut up

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Navy divers have retrieved the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from the wrecked Lion Air Boeing 737-800, more than two days after it crashed into the sea near the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar.

Strong waves and the presence of coral reefs made the removal of the CVR from the aircraft's tail difficult, a transport ministry official tells Flightglobal Pro, adding that the device is now with the National Transportation Safety Committee.

The aircraft's flight data recorder had earlier been retrieved and sent to Jakarta for analysis.

The two-month old 737 also has to be cut up to facilitate its removal from the shallow waters near the airport.

The country's director general of civil aviation Herry Bakti had earlier said that the plan was to tow the aircraft, which was broken in two between the wings and tail, to a beach nearby to speed up investigations.

The aircraft however, proved too heavy to be easily moved, and the authorities have since decided to cut it into several parts to avoid damaging the area's coral reefs.

Video footage from local media showed several parts of the aircraft, such as the wings and front fuselage, floating near a rock wall.

The Boeing 737, registered PK-LKS, was on a scheduled service from Bandung to Denpasar when the incident happened on the afternoon of Saturday, 13 April 2013.

The authorities initially said the aircraft overshot the runway before hitting the sea, but Lion Air later clarified that the aircraft had crashed about 50m (164ft) ahead of runway 09.

Local media reports say that at the time of the incident, the weather was cloudy with some rain.

It is understood that the pilot, who has about 15,000h of flying experience, took control of the aircraft when the less experienced co-pilot lost sight of the runway because of the rain.

"The pilot was experienced, but before landing there was a problem. It seems there was a weather change and the aircraft dropped," said Herry.

It is understood that the two pilots have been grounded pending investigations.