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Lion Air ends search for 2nd black box but Indonesian investigators to launch their own

Lion Air says it has ended its search for the cockpit voice recorder from its Boeing 737 MAX jet that crashed into the Java Sea in October but Indonesian investigators plan to launch their own as soon as possible.

Recorder likely to hold clues that could give investigators insight into the actions of the pilots

A woman holds a picture of a relative, one of the 189 people killed in a Lion Air plane crash, during a rally in December calling for Lion Air to put safety over profit and for the Indonesian president to ensure all remains are recovered. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

Lion Air said on Thursday it had ended its search for the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from its Boeing 737 MAX jet that crashed into the Java Sea in October but Indonesian investigators plan to launch their own as soon as possible.

The crash, the world's first of a Boeing Co. 737 MAX jet and the deadliest of 2018, killed all 189 people on board.

Contact with flight JT610 was lost 13 minutes after it took off from the capital Jakarta heading north to the tin-mining town of Pangkal Pinang.

The main wreckage and cockpit voice recorder, one of two so-called black boxes, were not recovered in an initial search.

Lion Air said in December that it was funding a $2.6 million US search using the offshore supply ship MPV Everest in what was seen as a rare test of global norms regarding search independence, as such costs are typically paid by governments.

Danang Mandala, the spokesperson for Lion Air Group, told Reuters that the search using the ship had ended on Saturday.

A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT), however, said on Thursday the agency would to start its own search for the black box as soon as feasible.

The CVR is likely to hold vital clues that could give investigators insight into the actions of the pilots.

The KNKT spokesperson said negotiations with the Indonesian navy were under way to use a navy ship to relaunch the search for the second black box as soon as possible.

Investigators examine engine parts from the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 at a port in Jakarta in November after they were recovered from the bottom of the Java sea. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images)

"It might be as soon as next week. It won't be as fancy as the (Lion-subsidized) MPV Everest but will be equipped with a CVR detector and we already have a remote-operated vehicle," the spokesperson said.

The clock is ticking in the hunt for acoustic pings coming from the L3 Technologies Inc cockpit voice recorder fitted to the jet. It has a 90-day beacon, the manufacturer's online brochure shows.

The family of the Indonesian co-pilot of the flight filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Friday against Boeing in Chicago, adding to litigation piling up against the manufacturer in its hometown.

A preliminary report by KNKT focused on airline maintenance and training and the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor but did not give a cause for the crash.

The lawsuit alleges that the Lion Air-operated Boeing 737 MAX 8 was unreasonably dangerous because its sensors provided inconsistent information to both the pilots and the aircraft.

At least two other lawsuits have been filed against Boeing in Chicago by the victims.

The families of victims were not immediately reachable for comment.