How Recovering the AirAsia Black Boxes Can Reveal More About the Crash

PHOTO: Indonesian air force and Indonesian navy personnel hold one of the black boxes of AirAsia Flight 8501 that crashed in the Java Sea, at airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, Jan. 12, 2015. PlayAchmad Ibrahim/AP Photo
WATCH AirAsia Jet Black Box Recovered in Java Sea

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.”

PHOTO: This picture taken onboard Indonesian navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh shows the Flight Data Recorder of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 after it was retrieved from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015. Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images
This picture taken onboard Indonesian navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh shows the Flight Data Recorder of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 after it was retrieved from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015.

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.

PHOTO: Indonesian divers onboard the Indonesian navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh handle the Flight Data Recorder of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 after it was retrieved from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015. Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images
Indonesian divers onboard the Indonesian navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh handle the Flight Data Recorder of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 after it was retrieved from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015.

"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.

PHOTO: Indonesian navy divers onboard the Indonesian navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh remove the Flight Data Recorder of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 after it was retrieved from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015.Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images
Indonesian navy divers onboard the Indonesian navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh remove the Flight Data Recorder of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 after it was retrieved from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015.

"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.