The discovery of one of the “black boxes” from AirAsia Flight 8501 is seen as a significant step toward unraveling what caused the plane to crash into the Java Sea last month.
"This is a very complex accident and we're not going to get instant answers that are going to take full scope of it, put it out on the table, for some time,” John Nance, a retired commercial pilot and ABC News aviation consultant, said. “But we may get a quick indication here of at least what it isn't.”
Divers today retrieved the box containing the flight's data recorder. Officials have located the second box, or cockpit voice recorder, but have not yet removed it from the ocean floor, according to The Associated Press.
The boxes may have been ejected from the plane during the Dec. 28 crash, Indonesian military commander Gen. Moeldoko told the AP, but Nance said he believes both recorders could still be in good condition.
"They're really computer chips embedded in a lot of foam in a package that is almost indestructible," Nance said. "You can submerge them, keep them underwater for years. You can slam them into the ground. You can burn them for hours, and you're still not going to obliterate the information."
The already-recovered flight data box can help provide some insight on its own, he added.
"We don't know whether it had to do with a thunderstorm encounter, which would be almost unprecedented, or whether it was a bomb. And, really, those are the two things right now that are the number one and number two possibilities, in my mind," Nance said.
The box containing the flight's data recorder has been sent to Jakarta, Indonesia, to be evaluated. Information could take up to two weeks to download, according to the AP.