Adam Air Black Box Recording Leaked To The Media

When I arrived home yesterday at 23.30 and went online to tell my friend, Tito, that I had meet a guy that looked like him a lot. After a few minutes of light conversation he asked, “Hey, have you heard the black box recording of Adam Air?”. And I spontaneously said, “No, why,” because as I know the black box recording is classified and not to be leaked to the media. except the excerpts to conclude the causes of the accident and make a safety recommendation from it.

I work for a JICA project on Aircraft Accident Investigation, and we’ve been working with the Indonesian NTSC (National Transportation Safety Committee) over at the Ministry of Transportation. So, I actually know a thing or two about the accident of Adam Air flight DHI-574 BOEING 737–4Q8 Accident in the Makassar Strait, Sulawesi on January 1st, 2007. So when, my friend told me that the black box recording was everywhere on the net and even being played at the TV, I didn’t believe it at first. So, I downloaded the sound file went through it with the official NTSC report which you can download here. At first I thought this was a hoax, but when I check the time span and the conversation especially near the end of the file, I found that it is in fact the real deal. And I was shocked! I emailed this fact to my boss right away. (I’m not going to post a link, seeing that it’s SHOULD not be spread futher because it can cause grief and mental confusion for the public).

Before I jump further, I need to explain what is actually a black box. They are in fact, 2 separate device on is the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) for recording the sounds in the cockpit and the FDR (Flight Data Recorder), located in the tail of an aircraft and it records flight parameters.What is spreading like wild fire now is the recordings of the CVR. Now aside from the apparent public panic, mainly from it being played on TV and having the files available of the net, I can see people wrote that the pilot was joking before the plane crashed. This is the exact thing why CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder – aka the black box) SHOULD NOT be released to the media. For one thing, according to International Civil Aviation Organization’s Annex 13(you can download the complete annex 13 here), “the sole objective of the investigation of an accident or incident shall be the prevention of accidents and incidents” and “it is not the purpose of this activity to apportion blame or liability”.

Another thing from the Annex 13 is:

Responsibility of the State conducting the investigation
1. Designate IIC and initiate the investigation immediately.  (5.5)
2. Independence in the investigation and unrestricted authority.(5.4)
3. Separate blame or liability.  (5.4.1)
4. Read-out of FDR without delay.  (5.7)
5. Effective use of FDR.  (5.7)
6. Non-disclosure of records.  (5.12)
– All statements taken from persons. (ex statements of witness.)
– All communications in the operation of the aircraft.  (ex. ATC )
– Medical or private information.
– CVR recordings and the transcription.
– Opinions expressed in the analysis of information.

I don’t know much about what is to happen next. But I think that Indonesia will receive a lot of heat from the ICAO and other related parties. What is need to be done is damage control and people can help by not making their on conclusions about the accident and with a bit of luck it would be nice if the media didn’t blow things out of proportion. Please read the final report thoroughly. To say that the accident was because of human error is not helping cause for common people, human error could lead to blame >_<. The investigation purpose is not to BLAME but to PREVENT the same accident of ever happening again. I really hope people can understand this.

Okay, that’s it, I just need to get this out of my chest to have peace on my well-deserved weekend. Tomorrow I’m gonna meet up with friends from high school.


I just want to clarify that I was never involved with the NTSC’s activity. As you can see in my blog I wrote: “I work for a JICA project on Aircraft Accident Investigation, and we’ve been working with the Indonesian NTSC (National Transportation Safety Committee) over at the Ministry of Transportation.”

The fact is that:
1. What I wrote was my own opinion and did not represent those of JICA, NTSC or the Ministry of Transportation.
2. I am not an engineer nor am I an expert in aviation. I do not have the ability to analyze CVR and DFDR recordings. So, I checked the sound file just from the NTSC report.
3. I did say, “I actually know a thing or two about the accident of Adam Air…” but not on a large scale. I only followed the news about it, attended the press conference (on which I received many information from some senior pilots), and study the report released by NTSC.

The writings on my blog should not be used to actually confirm that the CVR recordings are “the real deal”, seeing that I’m still following further progress on this news.



  1. In a way, leaking those recording to public, does prevent such accident from occuring, since it led the public to pressure pilots and more importantly airline companies to be more prudent when operating their flights.

  2. well I just heard that the transport minister has denied the fact that the recording was indeed genuine, by saying that the original recording was never been converted into digital media.. wtf man?

  3. hi, not sure if that is a local law decision or ICAO, but there are quite a few websites that transcribe CVR. in fact there is a book only about last words by pilots on sale at amazon.

    I think the public has a right to know what happened on the flights that crashed including hearing and viewing transcripts of CVRs. It is only by public dissemination of information that we make progress and learn.

    best. w.

  4. as the annex 13 said, recordings should not be released but transcribes of the CVR and the data from the FDR can. the public can know all of the fact about the accident but recordings of the CVR are off limits.

    does it ever occur that the public pressure could potentially turn to public blame. like what happened with the Garuda Yogyakarta pilot. the point of the Annex 13 and every aircraft accident investigation (AAI) is only for prevention not liability or blame. IMHO, people tend to mix these two up.

    let’s say if some incident involving the mechanism of a plane happened, and the plane landed safely; the right thing to do is to report to the authority that something has happened with that aircraft, so in the future the same mechanism failure would not happen. but if an airline company is already afraid that they will be blamed for the mechanical failure, they will try to fix the problem themselves and hide it to avoid further liability. this might happen if the public is breathing down their necks.

    I still haven’t heard the report of the minister. As far as, i know the recordings can only be listened and viewed with a special software and devices, so maybe what he meant by digital media is MP3 format. But do I hope that this is a hoax.

    Thank you for joining in the discussion gentlemen.

  5. because the transcribe needs to be relevant to the investigation. the investigation team is being transparent, they released every useful information possible. releasing the recordings just causes public grief. (I mean, how many of you shivered listening to this recording?)

    @wicak: you’re welcome ^^

  6. ah thank GOD you explained it, i was crying while watching the vid… it got me panicked and quickly reminds me of you. lol.
    well hope people will get over it soon, and i hope people in that plane will rest in peace.
    thanks for the explanations.

  7. i am one of the many who shared the mp3 file. by listening to the recording, it confirms how bad the maintenance at adam air (malfunctioning navigation system), which made the pilots pre-occupied trying to fix it. indeed adam air was notorious about this thing. it’s a pity the founder and the family who owned it got off scot-free.

  8. @ryosaeba: hmmm I haven’t been following the news of the owner since a few months ago after Adam Air was closed. But I’m sure he’s in a big mess seeing that investors are leaving and they have many IOUs in various places. I reckon the money would come from their own pockets.

  9. I just play the mp3, it was scary to me. When the pilot says “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar”, I feel what if I’m in the same plane. I agree with ryosaeba, that confirm how bad maintenance at Adam Air

  10. Hi,
    Great Blog, thanks for taking the time to express your truths. It is truly appreciated, by all ( at least by me). Thanks for your hard work, as a fellow blogger I know the daily grind of publishing new, interesting items. Thanks again for you hard work.
    Peace,Shundahai( A Newe word which means “Peace and Harmony with All Creation) Gregor Gable
    Nuclear and Indigenous
    Items of Interest

  11. Hi,
    I’ve read the NTSC report. I have few questions regarding the CVR and the DFDR:
    1) Did the PIC aware that the autopilot was disengaged? DFDR record shows that although the aircraft was not maintained at wing level position (roll angle 0), there were some movement of the aileron (aircraft normaly use aileron or spoiler to roll). The dfdr shows significant movement of the aileron close to the time when the PIC said ‘don’t turn it’.
    2) On the CVR trascript, the PIC instructed to switch to nav (which should turn the autopilot back on) after the ‘bank angle’ alert. But the dfdr shows that the autopilot was never re-engaged until the end of the record.
    3) The movement of the aileron when the PIC said ‘don’t turn it’: Was it made by the copilot or the autopilot? It seems that the movement was made by the copilot and probably the PIC said ‘don’t turn it. This is our heading’ because he thought that the autopilot was active after he instructed to switch the mode to nav.

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