Indonesian authorities have confirmed the tail section of the crashed flight AirAsia QZ8501 has been located underwater in a potential breakthrough in the search for the plane's black box.

The tail usually shelters the two flight data recorders, commonly known as black boxes, which could reveal the exact cause of the crash, in which 162 people were killed.

"Today we successfully discovered the part of the plane that became the main aim since yesterday. I can ensure that this is part of the tail with the AirAsia mark on it," Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia's search and rescue agency, told reporters.

The tail of the aircraft was spotted by divers with the help of underwater equipment, while search was on to locate the black boxes. Indonesian authorities insist that finding the bodies of the victims remains top priority, while recovering the cockpit voice and flight data recorders was also important.

Soelistyo declined to comment when asked whether pings were detected from the recorders.

Pictures of the tail have also been released as the major part of the wreckage has been spotted 11 days after the air tragedy. However, murky waters stirred by powerful waves continue to hamper recovery operations.

"I am led to believe the tail section has been found. If right part of tail section then the black box should be there," AirAsia group's chief executive Tony Fernandes wrote on his Twitter account.

"We need to find all parts soon so we can find all [our] guests to ease the pain of our families. That still is our priority."

In total, 41 bodies have been recovered from the tragedy and no survivors have been found so far.